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The History of Kirin The First World War and the Great Kanto Earthquake(1914-1928)

After the First World War broke out in 1914, Japan enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom with exports to other Asian countries surging and the production of ships and machines increasing sharply to fulfill orders from war-fighting European countries. Beer production jumped dramatically to meet rising demand among salaried workers who were emerging in large cities around the country and to fill the vacuum created in Southeast Asia when European beer makers stopped exporting beer to this region. To meet growing demand for beer, Kirin Brewery built the Kanzaki Plant in April 1918 (renamed the Amagasaki Plant in 1949) and a malt house in the Yokohama Yamate Plant the following month. In addition, the company acquired Sendai-based Toyo Brewery and turned it into the Kirin Brewery Sendai Plant in May 1923.

When the Great Kanto Earthquake struck Tokyo and surrounding areas on September 1, 1923, the Yokohama Yamate Plant sustained devastating damage. Instead of rebuilding the damaged plant, which stood on a small site in a hilly area, the company built a new state-of-the-art plant at another location in Yokohama in June 1926. In the following years, Kirin Brewery aggressively expanded its facilities: Malt houses were added to all Kirin Brewery plants, and facilities to produce soft drinks, bottles, and caps were added to the new Yokohama Plant.

After beer remained in short supply for some time following the earthquake, demand became flat in 1925, leading to an oversupply of beer. Beer companies struggled to cope with their suddenly excessive production capacity. Kirin Brewery had to find ways to dramatically increase its beer sales so as to keep its plants running. In January 1927, the company terminated the exclusive distributor agreement with Meidiya and went direct to retailers with its own sales force.

Kirin Brewery Kanzaki Plant
Kirin Brewery Sendai Plant
New Kirin Brewery Yokohama Plant

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© 2007 Kirin Holdings Company, Limited.

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