伊良コーラ 下落合

“Sharing the charm of Shimo-Ochiai and Japanese culture.” Iyoshi Cola, a craft cola specialty store that claims to be the first in the world, has opened in Shimo-Ochiai.

Iyoshi Cola, a craft cola specialty store that claims to be the first in the world. This spring, its factory and store opened near Shimo-Ochiai Station on the Shinjuku Line. We interviewed Cola Kobayashi, the shopkeeper who wants to make craft cola a part of Japanese culture, on how he ended up developing craft cola and why he chose Shimo-Ochiai as the location of his store.

Cola Kobayashi 20 years of residence along the Seibu lines

After graduating university, he joined an advertising agency while absorbing himself in the development of craft cola. His mobile shop attracted attention, which led him to open a permanent store in February 2020.

The craft cola was inspired by his grandfather's work as a Japanese kampo medicine practitioner.

The riverside path next to the store is named “Cola Komichi.” With the scent of craft cola wafting by, this place may become a new landmark of Shimo-Ochiai.

"Cola Kobayashi, the owner of Iyoshi Cola, used to sell his craft cola from a mobile food truck mainly at farmers markets in Tokyo. Sold at Isetan Shinjuku Store and other specialty boutiques in Tokyo, the kingfisher-branded craft cola has been attracting an increasing amount of attention from the public.

Iyoshi Cola provides an unprecedented, astoundingly unique flavor that differs completely from that of any traditional cola. The decision of the young cola enthusiast to extend his hobby of making cola into opening the craft cola specialty store that claims to be the first in the world was greatly influenced by the history of his grandfather, who was a Japanese kampo medicine practitioner."

伊良コーラ 下落合

I was always a big fan of cola, and one day, I came across the secret recipe of Coca-Cola on the Internet and wanted to try it, and that was how Iyoshi Cola came to be. I made cola as a hobby while I was still working full time as an office worker, but I was unable to achieve a satisfactory flavor for two years. However, while cleaning up the belongings of my late grandfather, who ran a Japanese kampo pharmacy, I found and did research on his tools and recipes, and thought I could make use of them in developing craft cola."

"I want to reverse the unhealthy image cola has, and share the spicy handmade flavor that brings wonder and joy."

伊良コーラ 下落合

Mr. Kobayashi inherited his grandfather's spirit and improved his recipe, which led to the development of the present depth of flavor in his cola. Unlike typical colas, the cola produced by Mr. Kobayashi with only natural ingredients tastes characteristically spicy yet gentle.

These are kola nuts. In Ghana, they are used to help people wake up and suppress hunger like an energy drink, and it is common practice to commute to work while nibbling kola nuts.

I blend kola nuts, from which cola gets its name, with several spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and coriander; vanilla beans; and lavender. I personally go to Ghana to buy the kola nuts. They also have medicinal properties, through which I find a connection with the concept of my grandfather's kampo medicine practice. Breaking down the stereotypes about conventional colas is another mission of Iyoshi Cola.

"Through my store, I want to share the charm of Shimo-Ochiai and contribute to my hometown."

From within the store, the factory can be viewed through a glass window. There are many work tools that Mr. Kobayashi inherited from his grandfather, such as a kola nut crusher and medicine cabinets.

"Physical store "Iyaoshi Cola Sohonten Shimo-Ochiai Store " opened in February 2020. Mr. Kobayashi opened the store and factory on the site of Iyoshi Yakko, a kampo pharmacy that his grandfather ran, breathing new life into this historical place.

The store is located along a riverside path near a bridge over the Kanda River, which flows near Shimo-Ochiai Station on the Shinjuku Line. Despite the proximity to the station, the area has an atmosphere so tranquil you forget you are in Shinjuku."

伊良コーラ 下落合

"Despite being just a 10-minute bike ride away from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, Shimo-Ochiai has very few landmark stores. The Kanda river flows near the station, and is lined with cherry blossom trees that bloom beautifully in spring. Even as a child, I have always loved that view, and I would be delighted if my store can help more people notice the beauty and tranquility of this area, as well as the value and other attractions of Shimo-Ochiai, and hopefully bring in more people and stores."

伊良コーラ 下落合
「THE DREAMY FLAVOR」600円は、注文ごとに1杯ずつ作りたてを提供。自宅で楽しめる原液(シロップ)S:1,200円、M:2,750円、L:6,300円も販売。炭酸割りをはじめ、お湯や牛乳で割ったり、お酒と合わせたりと幅広いアレンジを楽しめます。
For 600-yen, THE DREAMY FLAVOR is freshly made and served to order. The store also sells syrups that can be enjoyed at home just by mixing it with carbonated water, hot water, milk, or alcohol, in sizes such as S (1,200 yen), M (2,750 yen), and L (6,300 yen).

"Mr. Kobayashi is from Shimo-Ochiai. He wants to spread the charm of his hometown from his hometown, thereby giving back to the community.

""Shimo-Ochiai is virtually unknown to outsiders. Thus, I initially thought about naming my store 'Iyoshi Cola Grand Store Takadanobaba,' but I went with 'Shimo-Ochiai' instead to emphasize my hometown. I hope this spurs people to become interested in the neighborhood."""

Making craft cola a part of Japanese culture.

伊良コーラ 下落合

"The reason why the store and the factory are in the same building is because Mr. Kobayashi wanted to convey the idea of ""visible manufacturing,"" to show the kind of craftspeople that work at the factory. He wants to spread Japanese manufacturing and food culture throughout the world by means of craft cola products. That is his concept for the store. In addition, the riverside location has a significant meaning.

""The Kanda River, which flows next to the store, joins with the Nihonbashi River, which in turn flows into Tokyo Bay via the Sumida River, and then connects with the rest of the world. I located the factory near the river with the implication that I will aim for the world from here. Even the theme of our food truck ""Kingfisher"", is of a ship that sets off to travel the world, and the uniform design was inspired by that of sailors."""

“The noren curtain was made by my neighbor, Fujiya Somekobo.” (Mr. Kobayashi) The blurred characters hand-dyed on sailcloth with a yuzen technique provide a warm feeling unique to handicraft.

Mr. Kobayashi aims to make Iyoshi Cola the third largest brand after Coca-Cola and Pepsi: "As a pioneer of craft cola, I am responsible for developing it into a new culture." In contrast to his easygoing demeanor, he has a burning passion and unwavering belief in himself. In the near future, craft cola may become a part of Japanese culture.

About Iyoshi Cola, the place featured in this article

伊良コーラ 下落合

Iyoshi Cola Grand Store Shimo-Ochiai
■Location: 3-44-2, Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
■Business hours: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
Iyoshi Cola Shibuya Jingumae Store
*excluding the New Year's holidays
■Location: 5-29-12, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
■Business hours: 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM (open year-round)
■Official website: https://iyoshicola.com/

* The information presented in this article is current as of the date of the interview; it may differ from the latest information.
(photo:Hiromi Kurokawa,Noriko Yoneyama text:Ayano Sakai)

Favorite spots!

Fujiya Somekobo
Located near the home of Mr. Kobayashi’s parents, this kimono dye shop was established in 1952. “My store’s noren curtain was made by this shop.” (Mr. Kobayashi) The floor of the dye shop is made of dirt, unchanged since its establishment. There are many heaters in the dye shop to dry the dye resistant starch quickly.
Fujiya Somekobo
Clips to hold fabric, brushes to paint dye, and temples to spread fabric are indispensable tools for dye artisans. The Ochiai and Nakai districts used to be the center of Tokyo’s dye industry. At that time, artisans washing dyed goods in the river were a common sight.
三代目の中村隆敏さんと、二代目の博幸さん。通常、工房の見学は行っていませんが、年1回開催されるイベント「紺屋めぐり」開催時に、工房でワークショップなどを実施しています。■東京都新宿区高田馬場3-28-13 ■03-3368-8559
Fujiya Somekobo
These are Mr. Takatoshi Nakamura, the third generation head of the shop, and Mr. Hiroyuki Nakamura, the second generation head of the shop. Normally, the dye shop does not accept visitors, but it holds a workshop and other events during the annual Konya Meguri event. ■3-28-13 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo ■03-3368-8559
Chukasoba Sai
Mr. Kobayashi frequents this ramen shop in front of Shimo-Ochiai Station. “My favorite is the Pink Salt Tsukemen. I like to eat it topped with lemon, a special item not listed on the menu. I visit the ramen shop as often as once a week.” (Mr. Kobayashi)
Chukasoba Sai
The most popular dish is the Pink Salt Tsukemen, priced at 760 yen. The dip is made of a mineral-rich, mild pink salt from the Andes, and the clear soup based on pork and chicken bones has body and depth, yet tastes light and delicious. It goes very well with the thick, sticky homemade noodles.
もやし1袋を使った「台湾つけ麺」や、「酸っぱくて辛いラーメン」なども人気。■東京都新宿区下落合1-16-2はらビル1F ■03-3950-7132 ■11:30~14:00、18:00~21:00 土祝11:30~14:30、18:00~21:00 ※スープがなくなり次第終了 ■定休日:日
Chukasoba Sai
The Taiwan Tsukemen, which is topped by an entire pack of beansprouts, and the Sour and Spicy Ramen are also popular. ■1F Hara Bldg., 1-16-2, Shimo-Ochiai, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo ■03-3950-7132 ■11:30 AM – 2:00 PM, 6:00 – 9:00 PM; 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM, 6:00 – 9:00 PM on Saturdays and holidays * Closes when the soup runs out. ■Closed: Sundays
Seseragi no Sato Park
“This park is close to the station but is quiet and has many benches. I often visit this place to have lunch or to take a break. The park is relaxing.”(Mr. Kobayashi) The park has a friendly atmosphere, with parents and children basking in the sun and old men chatting in the garden pavilions.
Seseragi no Sato Park
The park opened in 1987 to the north of Ochiai Water Reclamation Center. It has a stream of treated water and provides a comfortable space surrounded by greenery, including various seasonal flowers and a row of cherry blossom trees.
Seseragi no Sato Park
There is a children’s playground on the east side of the park. The park is an urban oasis appreciated by local residents as a relaxing space. Next to the park are a baseball field and tennis court that are used as sports facilities in Shinjuku. ■1-1-1, Kami-Ochiai, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo