This vibrant craft brew scene is a recent development—in part because it was actually impossible not long ago. Before 1994, microbreweries were illegal in Japan. Licenses were granted only to brewers producing well over half a million gallons a year. That protected the well-entrenched large brewers from any upstart competition.
Government regulation and protectionism of corporate interests (aka “licenses”) is bad–not gemütlich at all. Little guys free to brew beer in their basements is very, very gemütlich.