Beer is the favorite alcoholic beverage in Japan and this post offers advice on which brand and how to recognize the production area of your local beer in order to avoid drinking contaminated water (95% of the beverage on average) and rice, which is often included. Of the four major beer brewerers (Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo and Suntori), only one is headquartered outside the no man’s land (Suntori, in Osaka). Although Sapporo was historically from Hokkaido, it is not true anymore (and besides, Hokkaido is inside the no man’s land). Premium Yebisu beer belongs to Sapporo.

In you cannot afford imported beers, first advice is to go for Suntori for that reason. Besides, although nobody can prove that it is not just a PR operation, yet Suntori stated that they pay attention to the origin of ingredients and any risk of radiation. This is different from other companies who claim there is no danger, only “fear”. Furthermore, Suntory “The Premium Malt’s”  (cf. picture below taken from web for anonymity purpose), for instance, mentions (in Japanese) that hops is from Europe.

Secondly, you need to know which factory the beer comes from. This piece of information is written underneath the beer can: if the letter you read is L or Y, you are reasonably safe, as it was brewed respectively in Kyoto Nagaokakyo and Kyushu Kumamoto. If you drew a can with letter P or F, you should consider staying sober, as the beer comes respectively from Tonegawa in Gunma prefecture and Musashino in Fuchu, Tokyo. Usually beer will be made with the local water and Gunma and Tokyo waters are contaminated.

Beware that some imported beers are actually manufactured locally under licensing. For instance, I doubt that cheap Carlsberg beer available in some 7 Eleven convenience stores was imported from Denmark. Kirin has agreements with Budweiser and Heineken. I have yet to research this more deeply, but if the price of the imported beer is half that of a local beer as is the case for Carlsberg, some doubts are permitted. Carlsberg Japan is headquartered in Tokyo.

If youlive in Kyushu or Okinawa, of course it is preferable to drink local Orion beer.

Avoid cheap “happoshu” as you multiply the risk of ingesting contaminated ingredients (up to 33% adjuncts including rice, corn, sorghum, potato, starch, and sugar).

Citizens measured 1.98 uSv/h in front of Asahi Breweries factory in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture. Kirin has just restarted their Sendai factory and new beer will be in stores from November 9th. Alcohol is dangerous but this is downright poison, or should I say, a witch brew.

Source for Suntory beer factory codes : (Japanese only)

サントリー酒類(株) (ビール・発泡酒・洋酒製造)※旧サントリー(株)
P :利根川ビール工場 (群馬県 邑楽郡千代田町)
F :武蔵野ビール工場 (東京都 府中市)
L :京都ビール工場 (京都府 長岡京市調子)
Y :九州熊本工場 (熊本県 上益城郡嘉島町)※清涼飲料もあり

Google translation :

Alcohol Suntory (sparkling wine liquor beer production), Suntory Old ※ (Ltd.)
P: Tonegawa Brewery (Chiyoda-cho, Ora-gun, Gunma Prefecture)
F: Musashino Brewery (Fuchu, Tokyo)
L: breweries in Kyoto (Kyoto Nagaokakyo tone)
Y: Kyushu Kumamoto Plant (cho Kashima-gun, Kumamoto 上益城) ※ ​​There is also soft drinks

Drink responsibly and with moderation. No endorsement or any advantage received from recommended brands – this is purely volunteer work.

This kind of reasoning and cross-referencing is an example of what should be at the bottom of any survival attitude in Japan.

  1. Bob says:

    Very good info here ! …, also i heard that Calbee potato chips have a code on them where the potatoes come from such as K for Kagoshima etc,,, I forgot the codes but could you check


  2. Bob says:

    Just a follow up, I found code of the factory here , and apparently most potatoes come form Hokkaido for these crisps..

    • Thanks Bob. In that case I would advise not to eat them. Hokkaido is often under the Fukushima fallout so Calbee are probably radioactive. You brought up an interesting topic with potato-based processed food.

  3. Kevin says:

    On another note, I have always wondered why there is an apostrophe in Malt’s…

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