Japan Earthquake 2011: Brewery Hopes ‘Made in Kesennuma’ Will Revive Tsunami-Hit City

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Japan Earthquake 2011: Brewery Hopes ‘Made in Kesennuma’ Will Revive Tsunami-Hit City” – below is their description.


    Japan’s 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami hit Kesennuma hard. Black Tide Brewing hopes to promote “Made in Kesennuma” to revive the port city in Miyagi Prefecture that was devastated by the disaster.

    “I really want BTB to be part of, you know, showing the world that, ‘Yeah, this terrible thing happened. But that’s not the sum total of what this city is like.,” said James Watney, a Portland native and now head brewer at Black Tide Brewing in Kesennuma, Japan.

    “I’m originally trained as a chemist. I have a PhD in theoretical chemistry and I used that for about 13 years working for a software company, said Watney. “I got to a point where I wanted to finally do something that I was really passionate about. For me, that was beer. and making beer and craft beer and that whole culture.”

    A chance encounter led James from making beer out of his kitchen in Portland all the way to Kesennuma.

    “I was home-brewing and there’s a big home-brewing store in Portland. It’s about 100 years old. And I was going there one day, my wife came with me. She just went up to these 2 gentlemen and started talking to them. One of the men, he imports beer into Japan from Portland. He found out about this project where they wanted to put a brewery into Kesennuma. And he’s like, ‘Hey, I know you’re kind of interested in moving to Japan and possibly brewing beer.'”

    Black Tide’s head of sales, Kazuya Tanji, discovered Kesennuma while volunteering after the 2011 disaster. As he spent more time there, he too fell in love with the city.

    “I shoveled mud and cleaned up debris from houses that were swept away by the tsunami. I was the biggest guy there so did the physical work,” said Tanji.

    Today, Black Tide Brewing says it hopes to promote the “Made in Kesennuma” brand to revive the city.

    “When people drink our beer from a can or on tap, I want them to wonder where Kesennuma is,” said Tanji. “Hopefully our craft beer can be that spark for more people to come visit Kesennuma. That’s the goal.”

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    In This Story: Japan

    Japan is an island country in East Asia located in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan comprises an archipelago of 6,852 islands covering 377,975 square kilometers (145,937 sq mi); the country’s five main islands, from north to south, are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Tokyo is Japan’s capital and largest city.

    Japan is divided into 47 administrative prefectures and eight traditional regions. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with more than 37.4 million residents.

    Japan is a great power and a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations (since 1956), the OECD, and the G7. Japan is a leader in the automotive and electronics industries.

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