[Posted October 9, 2012) On September 4, 1945 my father was on one of the first American ships to sail into Tokyo Bay, just two days after Japan surrendered, ending World War II. My father roamed the city with other Navy shipmates, seemingly on onshore leave. I flipped through his photo album of scenes of the city and people, offering a more personal and real human perspective of what life was like. Real people, doing every day sorts of things in a city that was on the verge of a tremendous recovery.
The day after Japan Craft Beer Association’s 2012 International Craft Beer Conference is August 27 and I’m on a one hour plane trip to Osaka with JCBA’s President and founder Ryouji Oda. I don’t know quite exactly where we are going, but surely it is a beer destination. My family and I with our luggage barely fit into his small car and drive 2 hours west towards the coast. We arrive in the resort town of Wakayama and immediately locate the one and only brewery. It is here that Kazuya Manabe and wife Tomoko brew Nagisa Beer and also operate a separate restaurant called Barleys.
There “first breath” of beer was brewed in 1997. Now 15 years old they are brewing about 1,500 hectoliters annually of Amber Ale, American Wheat, Premium Wheat, Pale Ale and Seasonal beers. A retired German brewer provides them with his own house made sausages and sauerkraut; German, Japanese and Italian cuisine are served at their Barley’s Pub along with their American-, German- and English-style ales. The beer is excellent, the food is quality and the ambiance is relaxing for pub goers and family.
Kazuya pours me one of the last remaining bottles of an American Cascade hop-brewed IPA; a special and experimental beer he wasn’t so sure his Japanese beer fans would appreciate. It sold out immediately. He will probably brew more, but right now he has his hands and capacity is full brewing his other beers.
Wakayama is a Japanese resort town, well known for its natural thermal spas, beaches, quality hotels (both traditional Japanese and Western), world class Zoo (with 8 Panda Bears) and Amusement Theme Park.
On a recent visit with my 89 year-old dad, I am fascinated with the photos of people and places. He’d taken many photos during his visit to Japan in the early weeks after the Japanese surrender in September 1945. I turn one page after another and then the handwritten note besides a page of photos jumps out at me. I can’t believe my eyes. “Wakayama, 1945.”
Next: Osaka brewer, Japanese women & beer.
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- Yokohama City of craft beer surprises
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