Over its 850 plus years, sake maker Sudohonke Inc. has endured wars, famines, earthquakes, plagues, droughts, storms and everything in between. But the nuclear crisis that started last year at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant was an unparalleled catastrophe that pushed it to the brink.

"Water is key to our products," Genuemon Sudo, president of Sudohonke, told The Japan Times in an interview earlier this month. "We were ready to close down if our sake was found to be contaminated by radiation."

Sudo is the 55th in the line of proprietors running the brewery in Kasama, Ibaraki Prefecture.