"Paradise": a dedication to our friend Fujii-san, and a hope for the future

We recently wrote a post about our donation to the “Kodomo Shokudo”, where we sent the proceeds of our Yosano beer (see post). Today we want to share what we did with the proceeds from another of last year’s beers, Paradise, and how we want to use it to raise awareness of a topic that we believe is very important. This might get a little on the heavy side, but we hope you bear with us.

Many fans of Kyoto Brewing, and craft beer drinkers in Saitama in general, will be well aware of Primordial, and the owner Fujii-san, who was far too young when he passed away on the 13th August, 2020. We were honoured to have his bar and cafe among our permanent tap customers, and were so impressed with the significance of his establishment, which had become a genuine community hub, bringing people together in a quiet residential part of Minami-Urawa.

Fujii-san’s form of cancer was one that had a high mortality rate, and despite his having been very young at the age of 37 when he passed away, it struck us initially as something simply tragic and unfortunate.

It was only in conversation with people more intimate with him than us, two of his close friends and regular customers in Naoki and Yukiko Orihashi, and his mother who was so warm and kind despite being in the aftermath of such a huge loss, that another word started to come to mind: avoidable. People who work for companies in Japan have a right to a yearly health check, and this is pushed onto employers by the government. What isn’t enforced, however, is the need for those who aren’t company workers to get regular health checks. Regular health checks for over 35s often involve stomach checks, either using barium or a stomach camera. At a minimum, they involve blood tests that can show signs of cancer. As with many small business owners, especially in the bar and restaurant business, Fujii-san didn’t get tested. And it isn’t surprising that many don’t. Bar and restaurant owners often work 6 days a week, sometimes 7. If they do have a day off during the week, they are often doing prep for their other days of operation, or carrying out chores that they simply don’t have time for otherwise.

It is easy to choose to put off or skip things like health checks, especially when you’re still quite young. We should know - we ourselves are a startup company that deprioritised health checks in our first couple of years of operation.

It’s hard not to ask the question, however: would the outcome have been different had Fujii-san took the time on his day off to get tested? Or just closed his shop for the day.

In thinking what to do for the proceeds from Paradise, our collaboration with Fujii-san’s friends, we wanted to make sure it was given to something significant and relevant. After some research, we learned about Cancernet. While looking to support research for cancer, one of their goals is also to raise awareness and get people to get themselves checked. So that is where the profits from this beer have gone. Whilst only a small drop in the ocean for battling something like cancer, we wanted to do something to help.

More than that, we hope that this helps raise a little awareness. And we would therefore like to finish this blog off as a plea. If you are independently employed, run your own bar or other business, or whatever you do, please take the time to go for your yearly health check. For those who are concerned about the cost, there are often local government support options as well. It could be one of the most significant decisions of your life.