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NISHIJIN BEER – Kyoto Beer that Creates Opportunities for People with Disabilities

NISHIJIN BEER – Kyoto Beer that Creates Opportunities for People with Disabilities

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KYOTO migration project is a website designed to support those who wish to realize their dream to live in Kyoto. We provide information on communities, jobs and housing essential to people who wish to “migrate” here.

Content Partner

KYOTO migration project is a website designed to support those who wish to realize their dream to live in Kyoto. We provide information on communities, jobs and housing essential to people who wish to “migrate” here.

 This article will introduce Nishijin Beer, a brewery located at Horikawa and Imadegawa. Nishijin Beer was founded in 2017 by an NPO called “HEROES.” You can buy its original craft beer bottled, or you can enjoy a pint at the brewery’s tap room that turns into a bar every Friday.* 
*The tap room is under temporary closure. Updated April 2021.
 

A small brewery in the city

PHOTO: Nishijin Beer
 Nishijin Beer(, in the old neighborhood of Nishijin famous for its textiles,) is a microbrewery located in a room of Nishijin Sangyo Kaikan, which is on the same site as the Nishijin Textile Center. It is managed by the NPO HEROES, and it was established in 2017 to support the employment of people with developmental and autism spectrum disorders. Here you can buy and have excellent craft beer that gives a sense of Kyoto.
 
 As far as establishments employing people with disabilities go, a brewery is atypical; bakeries and cafés are more common. Nevertheless, work at a brewery involves labeling and repetitive task that people with developmental disorders and autism can perform well. That was the reason why HEROES decided to establish a brewery. Of course, the other reason was because they enjoyed beer.
 
Nishijin Beer put up a beer stall at a summertime event. The person in front is Mr. Hayashida, and the one wearing a black t-shirt in the back to the left is Mr. Nakaoji. The other two are interns who were helping out on that occasion. PHOTO: Nishijin Beer
 As managers of the brewery, Takashi Hayashida and Shuhei Nakaoji (he was busy with brewing preparation that day, so I could not interview him) each create beer recipes.
 
 The brewery is operated mainly by these two and two service users that joined this fiscal year. 
 
 Nishijin Beer brews over fifteen different types of beer each year. These include the mainstay products as well as some seasonal beers. The size of each brew is 200 liters, and when one runs out, another type goes into preparation. So sometimes “that beer” you enjoyed the last time may be sold out the next time. But that also means that you always have a chance to discover something new each time!
From left: YUZU-MUGE; Lemon Ale, for White Night.; Silky Weizen
 Besides this tap room, the beers are served at some twenty restaurants and bars across the city. You can also buy the bottled beer online at Nishijin Beer’s online shop and Terawo Showten, or at shops including the GOOD NATURE STATION in downtown Kyoto. Some people also buy the beers as souvenirs and gifts from Kyoto for the stylish label designs and the tasteful names that the staff came up with.

Enjoy beer straight from the barrel at the tap room on Fridays!

PHOTO: Nishijin Beer
 The tap room is open every Friday, attracting a wide range of customers from locals to tourists who came after running a web search on “craft beer in Kyoto.” Every person enjoys this place in his or her own way, regardless of nationality, social status, or disability. 
Today’s tap list with witty and fun brew names in Japanese.
 From each of the four taps flows craft beer straight from the barrel. The price is reasonable enough to be tempted to try out different kinds! 
 
 The tap room serves only simple finger food such as dry snacks and canned food. But customers are allowed to bring in food, so feel free to bring your favorite snacks to go with the beer. 
 

It started from a post on social media about trying out fermenting

 Mr. Hayashida was born in Oita, Kyushu and was raised in Kyoto prefecture. He has also lived in various other parts of Japan during a period when he was working for a company. Though he says he thinks of Kyushu as his home, he has been in Kyoto the longest, and he currently lives in Yamashina-ku (a ward in the east side of Kyoto) .
 
 He previously worked at a financial institution for ten years. Though he was steadily making way in his career, he says that he still had doubts, thinking, “Is this really the way I want my life to be?” His view of life and death changed when his grandmother passed away in 2016. And inspired by the book Kusaru Keizai, he planned to move to Tottori, but for various reasons he had to give up on that plan. In the end, he did not have any concrete plans as to what he was going to do next at the time of his resignation in 2017. 
 
 Before the time of his resignation, Mr. Hayashida had become interested in fermented foods through reading the manga Moyashimon, so he had made things such as salt-marinated rice malt and miso on his own. He wrote a post on social media, saying that, “I’m about to quit my job, but I haven’t decided on what to do next. I want to try doing work related to fermentation.” Surprisingly, he got a response from an associate of the founding members of Nishijin Beer, asking if he was interested in their project! And so Mr. Hayashida ended up joining the project, a little later than the founding members themselves. Since then, he has been devoting his time to his job in charge of brewing.
 

Supporting employment of people with autism

The tap room with many customers PHOTO: Nishijin Beer
 When I asked Mr. Hayashida about his work since he began at Nishijin Beer, he responded as follows.
“I found my previous job rewarding. But now, I’m able to create products and pursue quality on my own. I’m also able to receive more direct critiques on my work. I feel like this is what’s called craftsmanship.”

 Mr. Hayashida also says he likes how his job allows him to go to different places and see all kinds of people try Nishijin Beer. He also enjoys how his work reaches people beyond nationality, social status, and age.

 “My interest in fermentation has brought me where I am now, but to be honest, I’m not sure where I’m headed. I hope I can find some concrete goal,” he says.
 At the end of the interview, I asked him about his thoughts on the brewery’s future, and he expressed his passion for beer.

 “I hope that people will continue to drink our beer as they have until now—as an everyday source of enjoyment. But at the same time, I wish to raise the beer’s brand value as ‘beer of Kyoto.’ I want to keep on improving the quality, making better beer.”

 He says that the shipping quantity has more than doubled that of the previous year, and that he’s been happy because the sales surpassed expectations. But the facility is still small, and at this rate, production won’t keep up with demand, he says. They are now considering relocation.“If we relocate, there will be more space and more work, so we’ll be able to employ more people. We want to create more employment opportunities for people with autism.”
 
 This is encouraging news for people with autism who are looking for employment. Let’s hope that Nishijin Beer will further grow and become a major brewery for the sake of such people who are in need of a place like it.
  

 
Nishijin Beer
Address: inside HEROES (Nishijin Sangyo Kaikan #115) at 414 Tatemonzen-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto city
TEL:+81-80-2514-3441
 
*The tap room is closed for the meantime (updated March 2021).
 
Creatives who contributed to this article:
Photos and writing by:
Debuko Deluxe

December 21st, 2019

 

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KYOTO migration project is a website designed to support those who wish to realize their dream to live in Kyoto. We provide information on communities, jobs and housing essential to people who wish to “migrate” here.

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