In an area of Japan still decimated by nuclear disaster, sake is offering cause for hope.

For the past five years the sake brewers of Fukushima — on a two-decade quest to develop premium products — have captured the most gold medals in a key national competition, and have won numerous international awards. Drinkers worldwide have noticed the rising quality, and sake exports from Fukushima have more than doubled since 2012.

Now the prefectural government and local brewers are promoting their success. The hope is that Fukushima's champion sake — made from local rice and water — will serve as a symbol of the safety of local agricultural and fishery products and of prospects for the prefecture's broader revival.