SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Brewed in Japan: The Evolution of the Japanese Beer Industry

Jeffrey W. Alexander
Dr Jeffrey W Alexander (University of Wisconsin – Parkside)

Date: 29 October 2014Time: 5:05 PM

Finishes: 29 October 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar


In this presentation, Dr. Jeffrey Alexander reveals how Japanese consumers adopted and domesticated beer in just a few generations, despite its entirely foreign origins. His new book, Brewed in Japan (UBC Press/University of Hawai’i Press), spans the earliest attempts at beer brewing in the 1870s to the recent popularity of local craft brews, charting beer’s steady rise to become the "beverage of the masses." The fortunes and fumbles of Japan’s major brewers shed light on a variety of issues, including technology, modernization, women, war, consumer preferences, and popular culture. Brewed in Japan explores such themes as the advent of Western-style taverns and beer gardens, the total control of beer production by Japan’s Ministry of Finance during the Second World War, the rapid rise in women’s beer consumption postwar, and the continued dominance of long-surviving firms like Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo. Based on an array of Japanese-language sources, this presentation will further illustrate how post-war marketing campaigns and shifting consumer preferences made beer Japan’s leading alcoholic beverage by the 1960s. Jeffrey will also discuss his ongoing project on Japan's postwar whisky trade.

Speaker Biography

Dr Jeffrey Alexander is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin at Parkside, some sixty miles north of Chicago. He received his PhD. in History from the University of British Columbia in 2005, and he researches Japan’s industrial and commercial progress, as well as shifting patterns of consumption since 1870. Jeffrey is also the author of Japan’s Motorcycle Wars: An Industry History, (UBC Press/University of Hawai’i Press, 2008), and he has given invited lectures about his research at Harvard University, Stanford University, and the International House of Japan in Tokyo. In April, he delivered the 2014 Mitsui Distinguished Lecture at John Carroll University in Ohio.

Further information and excerpts are available at: Brewed in Japan.

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