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Adventures in Shiiba - September 1995
by Erik Kassebaum

During August I was able to go back home and see my family in Petaluma California. While in California I talked with many people about Shiiba. Before I came back to Shiiba, I joked with friends about how people here in Shiiba will either say "Erik you look fatter" or "Erik you look thinner."

Since nobody has said I look thinner I will be riding my bike, playing mini-volleyball and trying to cut down on the number of snacks that I eat. Many Japanese people ask if I ever get "homesick." To be totally honest, there are three places that I consider to be home: Petaluma, Chico and Shiiba. Petaluma is where my parents are and is close to where I grew up. Chico is where my University is and is were I discovered how exciting learning can be. Shiiba is where I discovered how much kindness and community mean to me. Though I miss Chico and Petaluma while I am here, I miss Shiiba whenever I'm away.

Shiiba Beer

Do you like large corporations which are only concerned about money? Would you like to do something which would help local farmers and boost Shiiba's tourist trade? Perhaps Shiiba needs a small beer company which would use ingredients from Shiiba and make the beer here in Shiiba.

In America "Micro-Brewery Beer" has become very popular. A micro-brewery is a small beer company which uses traditional beer-making techniques and only the finest ingredients.

Whenever I am asked about "American Beers" I always tell people that I find beer from all large beer companies to be rather thin. My idea of good American beer is very different from what most Japanese expect for I have had the pleasure of drinking many different micro-brewery beers. Most are by small companies in places much like Shiiba.

Remember, America is mostly inaka. Because the big Japanese beer companies are very worried about the possibility that micro-brewery beer will become as popular in Japan as it is in America, they have been marketing things like "Kyushu Beer" and "Hokkaido Beer." In California and most other states it is legal for people to make beer at home.

To encourage tourism and to help small businesses the government has made it easier for small companies to get licenses to make beer. Though it is still against Japanese law to make beer at home, I have seen beer making kits in Japanese department stores.

With respect to small Japanese beer companies the biggest obstacles seem to be related to the tax law system. I expect that during the next five to ten years someone will create a "Shiiba Beer Company" and that it will be a very popular tourist attraction.