**Scroll down for important updates to this article. (July 21, 2020)
Kyushu experienced unprecedented storms over the past week with some areas, especially Hitoyoshi (Kumamoto Prefecture), Jojima (Fukuoka), and Hita (Oita), suffering widespread devastation as riverbanks were breached across the island.
The number of deaths has risen quickly over the past 48 hours, with scores still waiting to be reached by rescue teams and many still counted as missing.
Hitoyoshi City in Kumamoto is the home of the country’s Kuma Shochu industry, and several distilleries sustained damage due to the flooding. Kuma Shochu is made with water from the wells beneath the Kuma River, one of the nation’s three fastest-flowing. While the river is known to occasionally swell to the point of flooding, rains like those experienced last weekend have not been seen in decades.
Among the distilleries hit hard by the floods was Jufuku Shuzojo, one of the smallest distilleries in the region. Clear information is not available at this time, but it appears that the distillery was heavily impacted and the family home all but gutted. Founded in 1890, Jufuku’s best-known brand is ‘Mushagaeshi.’
The storm has since moved north and more recently exacted similar destruction on the prefectures of Gifu and Nagano. Travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19 have complicated the movement of assistance from neighboring prefectures. Cleanup and evacuation efforts have also been impacted.
Update: July 11th, 2020 3:47 PM JST
For those who would like to help, the affected prefectures have asked that people donate money or supplies. Please click through to this Fukuoka Now article for a list of possible ways to help (as well as bank account details for those that would to wire funds to the relief effort). However, crossing prefectural borders to volunteer is not permitted at this time.
Update: July 21st, 2020 3:34 PM JST
There is now a bank account set up for donations which will directly benefit the affected shochu makers in Hitoyoshi City.
Account Name: Kuma Shochu Saigai Gienkin (球磨焼酎災害義援金)
Bank: Higo Bank (肥後銀行)
Branch: Yunomae Shiten (湯前支店)
Branch No.: 274
Account Number: 1175439
Account Type: Savings (普通預金)
Bank Code: HIGOJPJT