The power of “ganbare”

More news regarding Japan’s Niigata earthquake.

The Asahi Shuzo sake brewery in Koshijimachi, Niigata Prefecture, which produces the famed Kubota brand, is slowly but surely getting back on its feet after the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake.

“When I walked into the storehouse, the damage was so bad that I couldn’t help crying,” said 54-year-old master brewer Kentaro Kiso.

On the night of Oct. 24, with the aftershocks still rocking the Chuetsu area, Kiso doggedly made his way to the brewery. Opening the door to his storehouse, he shone his flashlight around and saw tanks that had been full of rice malt toppled to the ground.

Osamu Hirasawa, the 56-year-old president of Asahi Shuzo, was determined not to let standards slip by shipping any sake in less than perfect condition. Therefore, he bit the bullet and ordered that all sake made since September be thrown out–more than 100,000 1.8-liter bottles of it.

Asahi Shuzo’s 160 employees were devastated by the crisis that has struck the 174-year-old brewery.

But just two days after the main quake, they began receiving letters of encouragement from drinkers all over the nation–from Hokkaido to Kyushu–saying they looked forward to seeing Kubota back on their tables.

Employees have made photocopies of one of the letters, which bears in neat calligraphy the word, “ganbare” (hang in there, don’t give up), and have hung copies up at each section of the plant.

The letters also provided encouragement for master brewer, Masahiro Go, 48, whose house in Ojiya in the prefecture was damaged by the quake.

“I felt strong, knowing people throughout the nation understand that we are trying to get through these difficulties and make a new start,” he said.

From the Daily Yomiuri Online.

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