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I am visiting companies challenging the global market with Japanese skills, Japanese quality, and Japanese craftmanship based on the tradition. I don’t know if the world has overtaken Japan or if Japan has declined, but in recent years, it is said that Japan’s position in the world is declining in various parts such as economy, society, and the quality of life. But is it really so? Japan still has world-class technology, traditions, and culture, and the value of these has been recognized in other parts of the global market thanks to the efforts of many companies pioneering the market in many countries. Furthermore, there are also new companies taking on the challenge with products and technologies, with their confidence and pride, to the world.  In this series, I would like to introduce how such companies are challenging the global market.

The first issue is

Ishikawa Brewery Co., Ltd.,

a sake brewery in Tokyo.  


Ishikawa Brewery has a brewery on the river terrace of the Tama River in Fussa City, West end of Tokyo, and has been working on sake brewing since the end of the Edo period, 19th. Century.  Besides Japanese sake, craft beer is also available.   Ishikawa Brewery , is working to expand exports to Southeast Asia. The effort was indeed of “a maverick”, drawing a clear line apart from Sake in the mainstream. Taking on the brand “Tama Jiman” (sake) and “Tama no Megumi” (craft beer), Ishikawa Brewery is challenging the global market!

In Vol. 1, I introduced sake brewing which is the exact opposite of the mainstream taste as the identity of Ishikawa Brewery.  Vol.2 is about marketing and branding of Ishikawa Brewery.

Sake Brewery

Where Customers Visit

With sakes as mavericks from the perspective of the mainstream, Mr. Koike who is responsible for Sales and Planning implements strategy “a sake brewery where customers visit” and “starting from our own shop”.   

How is Ishikawa Brewery implementing the such strategy to develop sales and the branding of “Tamajiman” and “Tama no Megumi”? 

Ishikawa Sake Brewery claims by itself, the entire site as a “Sake Drinker’s Theme Park”. In the premises, there are six buildings designated as important cultural properties of the city, as well as its in-site restaurants “Fussa’s Beer Goya” and “Kappo Ishikawa”, as well as a in-site shop “Sake Cellar”.

Why did Ishikawa Brewery start restaurants and a shop on the premises in the first place?

“Fussa’s Brre Goya”, recalling “Heulige” in Vienna

The space in the site used for private parties was turned into a in-site restaurant as a measure to clear the brewing volume of 60 ㎘, which is the standard for the beer brewing permission.

At that time, this kind of thing was not necessarily welcomed within the existing distribution network with liquor stores as final retailers.  

However, the number of retail shops has decreased, and now that there are no liquor shops in the neighborhood due to business closures, etc., it can be said that it was good to have such a shop.

Mr. Koike has taken a sales strategy in which the sake brewery conducts direct B2C sales, centering on these in-site restaurants and shops, and selling products online, and indeed, it has been extremely effective.   I

shikawa Brewery’s regional market, Tokyo, is a nationwide district, and fiercely competitive with many sake breweries bringing their products from all over the country.

For example, when exhibiting at a department store in Shinjuku, etc., of course, the quantity can be handled, but even if you do your best in sales, you can put one item in the store at most. And space can be replaced with competitors’ unless sales results came out quickly. 

Japanese Restaurant “Kappo Ishikawa”

So what Mr. Koike came up with was to serve for local customers at in-site restaurants and in-site shops, and to turn the sake brewery itself into a tourist spot as a “Sake Drinker’s Theme Park” to serve for customers from other areas.  

Visitors to the “Sake Drinker’s Theme Park” will enjoy Ishikawa Brewery’s sake at in-site restaurants, and have those customers buy sake at the in-site shop, remember the taste, and come to be a fun of them.   

In parallel, Ishikawa Brewery created a B2C flow by using SNS to plan projects, and responding to repeat orders from the in-site shop and follow-up projects through online sales.

In addition to boosting sales, this also serves as an antenna-shop for the market.

Thanks to this, Ishikawa Brewery is now able to directly grasp the market situation, and now able to take the initiative and disseminate our plans to the market as a Sake brewery.

In “Sake Celler”

Normally, the sales promotion events tends to be propose by the downstream of the sales channel such as wholesalers or other commercial channels.   But now Ishikawa Brewery can now make proposals of the event to the market with confidence, as Ishikawa can catch iup the market situation.

In a recent example, on February 22, 2022, we sold sakes with labels of “Nyanko”(means kitty) in conjunction with “Nyanko Day” in Japan.  The originally planned bottle was 100, which were quickly sold out, and we were forced to reprint labels.

(The “Nyanko” label will be planned again this year, so please look forward to it. We will also have a pink bottle named after cherry blossoms this year. For details, please see the URL on the right:

In the sake brewing and liquor sales industry, there is a lot of concern about how the shipment volume has dropped under the COVID-19, but Ishikawa Brewery was able to capture the demand for “drinking at home” by creating this B2C flow.  In 2020, sales volume of Ishikawa Brewery’s beer fell to 50% compared to the previous year due to the slump of sales for restaurants.  

In case of Sakes, the overall volume fell below that of the previous year, however those to some shops which firmly catch up the demand for drinking at home recorded 150% of the volume compared to the previous year.   Ishikawa Brewery is also maintaining the same level in recent years while the market of Sake has been shrunk in Japan.  

Of course, Ishikawa Brewery values the existing B2B-like flow from wholesalers to mass retailers, but by working on B2C that also serves as an antenna for the market, but not limited to an antenna, a virtuous cycle of sales is definitely creating in the sales movement of Ishikawa Brewery.

What is Branding of Maverick?

Well, Ishikawa Brewery has drawn clear line between the established route in terms of sake brewing and sales.  Its branding efforts were also unconventional.   

First and foremost, Ishikawa Brewery places great importance on proactively disclosing and exposing its products to customers and, by extension, the market, to recognise their unique tastes.   

This is condensed into the sake brewery tour, which is one of the projects of the “Sake Drinking Theme Park”.   For example, Ishikawa Brewery dare to show you the koji (malt) room and even let visitors take its picture, which is on the strict trade secret for Sake breweries.

“Koji” room should be secret for breweries?

Furthermore, what plays a role in such Branding is Mr. Maesako’s performance in presentation.  

Mr. Maesako is a rather talkative person, and he is in a state of talking to the end during the sake brewery tour.  The chief brewer will talk to visitors, show them various parts with “secret” of the Sake brewery, and let them take picturess.

By doing this, visitor will be able to impress a strong relationship with the taste of “Tamajiman”.

 And SNS is also an important branding tool for recognising Ishikawa Brewery. Each function is used properly according to their functions.   

Facebook is a tool for posting important information next to the official website and for advertising and announcements.

On Twitter, Mr. Maesako and the person in charge of Twitter put out irrelevant themes, and guided them from a tangle.

Instagram likes your content rather than its own! Follow up with the official account after putting in.

LINE is used for announcements, coupons, online thanksgiving days, etc.

The next issue is Youtube. This year, when the preparation is finished, “Maesako’s Toji Chanel” may appear?

Well, next time is finally the final version!

Ishikawa Brewery also takes unique management.

And to keep you waiting, let’s talk about overseas expansion.

We will also introduce the history of Ishikawa Sake Brewery.

Go to Vol.1→

to be ctnd.→

Go to the top page of blogs

Go to Mainsite⇒

All rights are reserved under the copyright of Yasuyuki Ayukawa (2023)


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