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The Nihon Keizai Shinbun reports on a brewery hit by disaster last February, and their recovery through crowdfunding.

The long-standing Nakayama brewery in Mie Prefecture was razed by fire in February 2017, but reopened less than a year later thanks to crowdfunding. Owner Nakayama Masaki and his wife Miki expressed their gratitude at support from people who they had never met, and resolved to carry on creating sake.

The brewery, founded in 1820, is most famous for Hakumaijō (白米城), also sold in a 15-year matured version as Kohakujō (琥珀城). Kohakujō won silver medals at the International Wine Challenge in the aged sake category in 2014 and 2015. 

The fire broke out in the freezing cold on 6 February 2017, caused by a short-circuit in the cable of a heater being used to warm a brewing tank. All four brewery buildings caught fire and most of their equipment was lost. The fire did not spread, but the Nakayamas were conscious of the inconvenience caused to their neighbours.

Miki’s first thought on seeing the remains of the brewery was that it would never reopen. But their customers and families encouraged them day after day, telling them they couldn’t give up that easily. Their storehouse had thankfully been spared, so they decided to use it as the main brewery and turned to crowdfunding for repairs and purchasing new equipment.

Their initial goal was JPY 3,000,000. They announced the crowdfunding on social networking sites, and friends publicised the project for them. In the end, they were backed by 346 people to a total of JPY 4,100,000. Although they had no sake to send as a reward, they shipped sweets made from the lees instead. The sweets gradually became popular, and Masaki hopes they bring those who eat them the same good fortune as they experienced. For now, the couple are determined to brew sake loved in its home area.