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Monday, March 8, 2010

A Good Drinking Story

This week's photograph comes from the collection of Meiji Japan architecture taken by Dallas Finn. It is currently being scanned in at the archives to be added to the SIRIS catalog.

If you're out at the bar tonight and you order a bottle of fine Sapporo beer, you’ll notice the star emblazoned on the label is gold. That wasn’t always the case. As immortalized here, on the apex of this Meiji-era Sapporo Factory, the star used to be red. At that time, the red star was the symbol of the Kaitakushi (Hokkaido Development Agency), who “settled the wilderness” of Japan’s northern most island to make it more hospitable to Japanese settlers. These pioneers took on the North Star as their symbol, and affixed it to every beer and building they made. The Kaitokushi was abolished in the 1880s, but the brew and the logo remain. The star turned gold, however, much later, to avoid any affiliation with the Soviet Union. Now, that’s a good drinking story.

Enjoy your week!
-Allison Elliott
Freer+Sackler Gallery Archives Volunteer

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