Mix’d Musings

Sunpu Alt Beer Label Artwork

2022-10-07 | Design, Case Study, English, Illustration, Japan

Here is the final introduction to the ukiyo-e inspired new beer label designs for Aoi Brewing’s regular line-up: Sunpu Alt.

Label: Aoi Brewing Sunpu Alt

One of Aoi Brewing’s ( @aoibrewing) tenets is to uphold traditional styles of beer and their take on the German classic Alt, which means “old”, is one of their best (as my personal favorite this may be a totally biased opinion 😊). In the early days of Aoi Brewing, it only came out once or twice a year because most beer drinkers in Shizuoka wanted the familiar golden beers. But Aoi Brewing’s Alt gathered it’s own die-hard fans, some even buying it by the case when it came out! When Aoi Beer 2.0 started up again, the Alt style won a place in the regular line-up.

Sunpu, aka Shizuoka

Sunpu Castle Aerial photograph 2009

Aerial View of Sunpu Park area © National Land Image Information, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunpu Alt is named for the area encompassing the centrally-located Sunpu Castle Park (駿府城公園 sunpujō kōen). The Edo Period name for Shizuoka City, specifically the central area of Aoi Ward was 駿府 (sunpu) and housed the castle where Tokugawa Ieyasu lived after retiring as shogun. Well, “officially” he retired but in fact he operated in essence a shadow government from Sunpu Castle until his death.

Artwork for Sunpu Alt Beer Label

駿府アルト Sunpu Alt artwork

The subject matter was easy for the Sunpu Alt label, it needed to feature Sunpu Castle. Only problem is…it no longer exists!

The castle was demolished in a fire around 1635 and there are no complete architectural plans remaining. Today you can see a couple of the gates which have been reconstructed. But sadly no castle, so the only thing to reference is other artist’s interpretations.

Art Reference

While there are not many Ukiyo-e depictions of Sunpu Castle, a set of folding screens owned by the city shows the famous Tokaido Road and the castles along the way.

Sunpu Castle depicted in Tokaido Byobu (Fuchu)

Close-up of【東海道図屏風】Tōkaidō-zu Byōbu (source: Shizuoka City Bunkazai http://www.shizuoka-bunkazai.jp/project/2020/06/post-60.html 

(Not-So) Hidden within the artwork

Shachi on Sunpu Castle 駿府城に鯱鉾

Compared to the other labels, Sunpu Alt is rather straightforward with the golden Shachihoko proudly displayed.
(And did you know you can see Mt. Fuji from Sunpu Park? All these years here and I never noticed!)

A toast to beer

Our favorite Aoi-man somehow climbed up into the castle so he can give a toast to Japan’s favorite symbol, Mt. Fuji. And with nod to modern times, the young women are capturing the moment with a selfie. These two are actually based on an illustration I did for fun a few years back. titles “Edo Gyaru“, you can see it on my instagram.

Ichi-Fuji, Ni-taka, San-nasubi

Aoi Brewing's Sunpu Alt bottle

Last minute but, after a 2-year absence the Shizuoka Craft Beer & Whiskey Fair is back this weekend on October 8 & 9, 2022. And, held in Sunpu Castle Park! Come grab a beer and make your own toast to Mt. Fuji and shoguns of yesteryear and today.

*Last but not least, each of the regular lineup labels has one of the objects from a famous saying attributed to Tokugawa Ieyasu about the first dream of the new year (Hatsuyume),ichi-Fuji, ni-taka, san-nasubi”. It i is said that if the first dream of the new year includes Mt. Fuji, a falcon/hawk and eggplant (nasubi), the person will have good luck.

More beer label art:

Blog post: Sengen Golden Ale 
Blog post: Shizuhata IPA
Blog post: Hirono Momo Ale 
You can see all the labels in my portfolio page also.