What aspirations did the man
Seibei Nakagawa hold in his heart?

1865 About
Seibei Nakagawa

Seibei Nakagawa

Discover the remarkable story of Seibei Nakagawa, a young man born into a merchant family in Mishima-gun, Yoita-han, Echigo (now known as Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture) in 1848. At just 16 years old, Nakagawa left his home in search of adventure amidst the declining shogunate, eventually finding work as a bellhop at the German Merchant Office in Yokohama. It was here that Nakagawa became captivated with the idea Europe.The following year, 1865, Nakagawa took a daring risk at the age of 17 by stowing away on a ship bound for England. At the time, such a crime was punishable by death, yet his determination and bravery led him to pursue his passion for adventure and exploration.

1873 The first Japanese
person to study
beer brewing in

Berlin Beer Fürstenwalde Brewery
Photo Provided by: Museum Fürstenwalde

After 7 hard years of poverty in England, Nakagawa set out on a journey to Germany, where he had a life-changing encounter with Shuzo Aoki, who would later become Japan’s foreign minister. Recognizing the potential popularity of beer drinking culture in Japan, Aoki encouraged Nakagawa to study brewing practices during his stay in Germany. With the help of Aoki, Nakagawa landed a job at the Berlin Beer Brewery in Fürstenwalde in 1873, where he immersed himself in the quintessential western culture of beer brewing.
With unwavering determination and a passion for excellence, Nakagawa devoted himself to perfecting his craft and becoming the first certified Japanese beer brewer.

1875 Returning to Japan
after 10 years with
a certificate

Seibei Nakagawa in Germany
  • Certificate of Training

Nakagawa spent two years in arduous training to become a master brewer. In 1875, his hard work paid off when he received a prestigious certification recognizing his deep interest, curiosity, and diligence in the art of beer-making. The certificate commended him for his in-depth understanding of all aspects of the trade.
With his certification in hand, Nakagawa returned to Japan after 10 long years abroad, only to discover that the government was planning to open a beer business in Hokkaido. He was chosen as the Chief Technical Officer of the planned Sapporo brewery, tasked with leading the development of the brewery through trial and error.