Dave Prucha’s work day begins at the crack of dawn, when he heads out to tend his hop plants in rural Yamanashi Prefecture, on his farm, Obina Hops.
Prucha purchased land in Obina, just outside of the city of Kofu, 12 years ago after falling in love with the scenery and the warmhearted locals. He had already been taking groups of students out to the area to learn about rice cultivation as part of his course on sustainable business for Takushoku University in Tokyo, and the San Francisco native and lover of craft beer eventually saw a chance to immerse himself in a new venture — bringing back domestic hop production to the region and starting his own microbrewery in Kofu.
Dave Prucha (left) surveys his young hop plants, which don’t mature for commercial use until their third year. | COURTESY OF DAVE PRUCHA
“About 50 years ago, hops were still grown here quite a bit, and many older people can remember working on a hop farm before they went out of business. But Japanese beer companies then switched to cheaper imported hops, and the local hop industry collapsed,” Prucha says.
Following the rise in popularity of craft beer in Japan in the 1990s, Prucha believes the time is right to re-introduce hop farming…