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Takashi Tokuyama (President of Yushin Brewing Company established in 1854 in the town of Ayagawa, Kagawa) took over the firm from his father in the 1970s. In 1974 the sake business was at its peak but faced stiff competition from other beverages which were growing in popularity. At that time Japan’s sake industry went into a long, slow decline from which it has not recovered.
Tokuyama a scientist with a passion for research in the bio-tech sector understood that sake production would not be enough to float the company which had been in his family for 160 years. In order to survive he would have to diversify and develop new products. However, he had no idea what sort of products he would need to create nor did he know how to sell them.
In this vacuum Tokuyama persevered through many desperate years. When bankruptcy threatened he was forced to sell ancestral lands in order to keep the company afloat. However, at the foundation of his work was a sense of mission and a fierce determination not to give up.
Tokuyama remained faithful to his sense that rice—an integral part of the Japanese spirit and culture —would unlock the key to his dream of creating safe products for use in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. He worked to create effective products backed up by scientific data. After numerous attempts and failures he persevered to achieve success with a series of Rice Power Extracts.
Initially, since they are made without chemicals from natural fermentation of rice and not at all harmful, he and his wife tested the products on themselves. Eventually, in 2001 Tokuyama gained certification for one of his extracts (Number 11) as a ‘quasi drug’ for its ability to rejuvenate dry skin from within.
From there, by manipulating temperatures and fermentation times, he developed more extracts, worked to get others certified and gradually built connections with cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies which used his extracts in their product lines with splendid success.
Currently Tokuyama’s company has 80 employees and millions of dollars in sales. Now in his 70s he continues to push the boundaries of research in the biotech field to develop new and practical uses for his natural extracts.
Some are now being tested in the treatment of allergies, stomach ulcers and even cancer. Tokuyama’s breakthrough with Rice Power Extracts is a thoroughly modern biotech phenomenon backed up by rigorous science. Best of all, it’s innovation in harmony with Japan’s nature, culture and tradition.
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