Sake Consumption during the Showa Period (1926-1989)

When the Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, food shortages started and sake rice was restricted, which reduced the volume of sake produced year-by-year. 

As sake became less available, “Kingyo-zake” (sake diluted with water) appeared on the market. To crack down on diluted sake, the Japanese government enacted standards for sake according to alcohol content in1940. A grade system of Special Grade and First Grade were enacted for sake from 1940 to 1943. As the war raged on, sake breweries were reorganized and consolidated by 1943, reducing the number of sake breweries from approximately 8,000 to 4,000 breweries. Although the sake rationing system was abolished after the war, the grade system to assess sake as Special grade, First grade and Second grade remained.      

Sake production volume in Japan dropped to 39,080,000 U.S. gallons by 1945, and to 23,830,000 U.S. gallons by 1947. The lack of sake prompted sake production in secrecy. As a measure to compensate for the lack of sake at this time, a sake product was developed by adding distilled alcohol to brewed sake.  

Taverns serving whiskey started operating by 1955, prompting the rapid growth of Western alcohol such as whiskey, wine, beer, etc., which slowed the growth of sake consumption that expanded rapidly after the war.