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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, ASIAN HISTORY (oxfordre.com/asianhistory). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 29 October 2020

Beer and Whisky in Japanese Marketplaceslocked

  • Jeffrey W. AlexanderJeffrey W. AlexanderDean of Arts and Sciences, Pueblo Community College

Summary

Japan has a local, centuries-old tradition of brewing sake from rice and distilling spirits from ingredients such as grain and sweet potatoes, but pioneering entrepreneurs began producing imported “Western liquors” (yōshu) in the late 19th century. This Western liquor marketplace was driven chiefly by beer brewing and whisky distilling. Western liquors were marketed, advertised, and consumed with rising popularity through the early 20th century, as living standards rose and ordinary Japanese came to afford them regularly. Following the Second World War (1939–1945), these Western commodities were no longer viewed as foreign imports, and were instead broadly regarded as domestic, if not indigenous, products. The impact of wartime rationing transformed beer into a lighter-tasting beverage that became very popular with women and young people, and whisky advertising focused closely on professional “salarymen” seeking increased prestige as well as escape from their demanding jobs.

Subjects

  • Asian History

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