Why is This Hiroshima Guy’s Glass of Beer So Superb?
HIROSHIMA – Yutaka Shigetomi is the owner of a small liquor store in Hiroshima, Japan. The city has been well-known for its A-bomb dome for decades, and the peace memorial attracts many tourists from all over the world. In this city, Yutaka’s tiny beer stand was created six years ago and attracts thousands of tourists from all over Japan. They come to this place simply to enjoy the draft beer that Yutaka pours.
Beer Stand Shigetomi is at the corner of a storage unit attached to Yutaka’s liquor store. The space is small and accommodates no more than 10 people at a time. Yutaka stands behind a beer server in his pure white jacket and a black bow tie. He tilts a shiny glass, pours from a beer server inherited from his grandfather, fills the glass with the liquid, and skillfully slices the creamy foam off the top with his usual spatula. When you take a sip, a smile will immediately leap to your face, because the beer Yutaka serves is different.
“Beer makes for smooth communication. I think the many difficulties today arise from a lack of communication,” Yutaka said. “I pour beer in the belief that tasty beer can facilitate communication and solve those difficulties.”
In Japan, beer has surely played a significant role in sustaining good relationships between a boss and a subordinate at a company, among family members like a father and his son, and among colleagues as well as friends and couples. Japan has long been a beer lover, as it ranks seventh*1 in the world for its beer consumption. However, domestic beer consumption has been declining over the past several years, as shown in this chart*2.
(Above Left: “Sake no Shiori” by the National tax Administration Agency; Right: “Robobank Roboresearch Food & Agribusiness: Trends and development
in beer and beer consumption” )
Domestic beer consumption peaked at about 6.96 million liters in 1994, and has decreased every year since. In 2016, the amount fell to 2.75 million, marking less than half that of the peak year. The drop is attributed to several things: Japan’s aging society, a trend that young people no longer favor beer, the advent of new kinds of beer like low-malt beer, and liquor diversification including the popularity of wine and distilled spirits. While so many reasons are associated with it, there has been no definitive reason for the decline of beer consumption. Meanwhile global beer consumption has been gradually increasing since 2000. Japan and the rest of the world show a contrast in beer consumption over the past 10 years.
Yutaka’s Beer Stand Shigetomi in Japan’s regional city challenges the national trend with only a glass of beer. Why do so many people swarm to this tiny bar?