This year we're celebrating the 150th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between Japan and the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway.
This was the first treaty the Government of Meiji Japan, which overthrew the Tokugawa shogunate, signed with a foreign country. And what better way to foster mutual ties of friendship than by means of sea shipping and beer! The gentleman going by the name of William Copeland – a seafarer born in Norway as Johan Martinius Thoresen – set up Spring Valley Brewery, Japan's first brewery, in Yokohama in 1869.
Little by little, Copeland, aka Thoresen, sold his shares, giving birth to Kirin, one of today’s beer industry heavyweights. Interestingly, Kirin is part of the Mitsubishi conglomerate, owner of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line), which, in turn, was brought to life with the priceless help of another mariner, John Wilson, or better known in Sweden as Frederik Wahlgren. がんばろう!