Asahi Soft Drinks Factory Tour
Despite the unfortunate lack of “Oompa Loompas” there is a certain magic to seeing how your favorite soft drinks are made.
Since “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” you may have been fascinated with the way in which snacks and drinks find their way from the factory floor to you.
Taking a guided tour at Asahi Soft Drinks Factory in Akashi, near Kobe, can give a Japanese spin on this. Despite the unfortunate lack of Oompa Loompas, there is a certain magic to seeing how your favorite Japanese drinks, such as Mitsuya Cider, Calpis and Wilkinson Soda Water are made. The factory first opened in 1990 and since then has churned out around 50 million cases of drinks per year.
The tour began with a brief introductory video and commentary on the history of the company and its current standing in Japan and internationally. I should add that this is completely in Japanese, so be sure to take a Japanese-speaking friend along with you to fully appreciate the experience.
Next up is a brilliant photo opportunity. Along the back wall of the entrance hall is a large LCD screen with a series of bubbles moving across it, kind of like a giant glass of soda. Alongside the screen is a camera. Recording your picture on the camera leads a few seconds later to your own face showing up in the bubbles of various sizes flying across the screen.
It is one of those uniquely Japanese pirikura (photo booth) type experiences that kids are sure to love. From there, head upstairs for an overview of the whole factory production line. It really is a massive set up, with huge production and processing machines running the full-length and breadth of both sides of the massive factory floor that sprawls out below the glass-front observation area.
But there’s far more to Asahi’s soft drinks output than just sodas and fruit juices. Tea and coffee form a large part of their product line, too. The nearby tea and coffee processing facility is another cool feature. As well as an overview of the production process, we were also given a chance to sample and taste the various beans, grains and leaves that go into their various teas and coffees.
And, of course, no trip to a drinks factory is complete without the obligatory visit to the mascot-driven gift shop, and you can also visit the Mitsuya Cider Museum. Along with this tour, you can try some of the drinks!
Before you go
The Asahi Drinks Factory Tour is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Throughout December, a special Christmas Fair event will be held at the factory three times per day at 9.30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. According to their website, you should make a reservation in advance by calling the venue at 078-941-2309 (in Japanese). More info here. (Japanese)