Craft sake brewery to make unmanned station more welcoming(無人駅の「クラフトサケ」醸造所がお出迎え)

Taisuke Sato, left, speaks with a visitor.(来店者と話す佐藤さん(左))

 MINAMISOMA, Fukushima -- JR Joban Line's Odaka Station in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, has been remade into an unmanned station equipped with a sake brewery.
 Haccoba Craft Sake Brewery, which brews a new kind of drink called "craft sake" in the city's Odaka area, held a preopening event at the station on Feb. 9. According to East Japan Railway Co., this is the country's first sake brewery built within an unmanned station.
 Taisuke Sato, 31, the representative of haccoba, said: "This station is a symbol of the town. I'd like to keep the lights on in the unmanned station and make it a warm, welcoming place."


 The station brewery is called the "haccoba Odaka Station Building Sake Brewery & Public Market" and was set up at a space that was previously used as a night duty room and station office. The brewery will produce craft sake made by adding hops and herbs to conventional sake ingredients during the brewing process. It will also produce non-alcoholic drinks so that high school students, who are the main users of the station, can feel comfortable in the new facility. The station's sake brewery will fully open in April.


 "I hope the new brewery will serve as an introduction to the area for people from near and far. I'll be happy if high school students and other locals can enjoy this place," Sato said, expressing his enthusiasm for creating a place where people can relax and have fun.
 In addition to the sake brewery, haccoba also created a market area and a common space within the station. In the market, they sell the company's products, local souvenirs and stationery. In the common space, people can eat and drink, so they can relax and enjoy the products they bought in the market. The company is also considering using these spaces for events.


 Since the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011, the Odaka area has been facing population decline and is aging out. The area's population is now only about 30% of its pre-disaster level and people aged 65 and older account for about 49% of that number. Odaka Station has been unmanned since 2020 due to the decline in users, among other reasons. Under the current circumstances, the station brewery is hoped to be a boost to the local community.


 Shigeru Ikezawa, an official at the Mito branch of JR East that helped haccoba open the facilities, said, "We were impressed by the company's enthusiasm for revitalizing the community. We would like to work together with them to transform the new facility into a place that is loved by the locals and visited by many people from outside the prefecture."
 "I'd be glad if the hustle and bustle returns to the town. I want to support the efforts led by young people," said Tomoko Kobayashi, 72, proprietor of the Futabaya ryokan inn in front of the station.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2024年2月10日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】