Iyoshi Cola: The first raw craft cola specialty store in Japan
Coke or Pepsi or Iyoshi? Stereotypically, when we think of cola, the most widely consumed major corporation product be it Coca Cola or Pepsi comes to mind. Yet most of us never took a moment to consider making it ourselves, unlike Takahide Kobayashi. The “cola maniac”, Kobayashi opened the first raw craft cola specialized physical store on February 28th 2020.
Based on the 100-year-old recipe, Kobayashi has his secret concoction blended with kola nuts, more than 15 spices and citrus fruits to craft a magical elixir, the “Iyoshi Cola”. A resealable bag with cola base added with carbonation and black pepper upon purchase, this strange looking brownish liquid looked more like a jelly than what we would normally imagine of a cola. Because of adding a strong carbonated water, and stirring it with the spices, the fizziness and the spiciness brings out an exquisite flavor with the spice not too overwhelming but balanced with a good kick. Yet it keeps the sweetness somewhat resembling that of a taste of Coca Cola, which out of the many cola, Kobayashi loves the most.
“I just love cola so much that while travelling around the world drinking different varieties, I randomly discovered this 100-year-old cola recipe. And I wanted to bring back that recipe of an ancient cola.”said the founder of Iyosi Cola, Takahide Kobayashi.
Takahide Kobayashi, founder of Iyoshi Cola
After two and half years of trial and error, starting with the original cola recipe, Kobayashi was finally able to reach to his current concoction and became the world’s first craft cola specialty maker.
Freshly made Iyoshi cola on spot
Bag of Iyoshi Cola, stir well before drinking!
Undiluted Iyoshi Cola to take home and mix with strong carbonated water or whisky or your own choices of drinks
“I want to spread Iyoshi Cola worldwide but not itself as just a regular craft cola but with some essence of Japanese culture together. It is because, the idea of kampo (Chinese medicine) where the concept of harmony which blends different things and makes them balanced are similar to the Japanese cultural concept of harmoy (wa和in Japanese). Which in this case implies to the spices for Iyoshi Cola that have been perfectly “harmonized” by the secret concoction. Also, when I make a physical store, I want each store to have a theme for the visitors to enjoy both visually and with taste”.
Like so, the first physical store opened alongside the Kanda river in Shimo-Ochiai has a modern retro atmosphere adding some taste of Japan from Showa era but with a stylish vibe of a nightclub with good music and neon art sign of a kingfisher.
Iconic neon sign of a kingfisher with rainbow reflective word signs
The linear typography with less saturated and flat feel used to write Japanese on Iyoshi Cola’s logo and its retro color schemes of blue, white and brown gives a nostalgic impression as if time travelled back to the Showa era.
Entrance to the store with the noren (drape hanging at the entrance) representing the traditional culture of Japan as it uses fabric-dyeing technique of Yuzen.
Kobayashi opened the first store here in Shimo Ochiai as this place was used to be his grandfather’s herbal medicine factory, Iyoshi Yakko, where he got the brand name for his cola. This place was his origin and is the starting point for his journey as a pioneer in the craft cola in Japan. Some might wonder why the shop is only open 3 times a week. It’s because it takes a day to prepare the cola base and a week for it to mellow in to become Iyoshi Cola, ready to be served. Eventually, Kobayashi has in mind of creating a Japan edition using Japanese botanical and kampo to sell as one of the standard products.
Kobayashi in the make of Iyoshi Cola
Selecting the finest ingredients to make the concoction
Fans from around the world fly over just to buy Iyoshi Cola. Some travel as far as Hawaii and even from countries in Europe. Now that a physical store has opened, fans can grab a bag of freshly made craft cola anytime between Friday and Sunday when the store is open. There is no doubt that this will be a must to go places visited while your stay in Tokyo.
2minute walk from Shimo-Ochiai station on Seibu Shinjuku line
3-44-2 Takadanobaba Shinjuku Tokyo, Japan
Open: 13:00-17:00 Friday, Saturday & Sunday