Tour, tasting, and super rare souvenirs make this a must-visit spot for fans of the iconic drink. 

The creator of Calpis was a man called Kaiun Mishima, who travelled to Mongolia and was amazed by the delicious flavour and health benefits of their cultured milk. Upon returning to Japan, Mishima created Calpis, the world’s first “lactobacillic drink”, which has a unique aroma and taste, born from two fermentations. The first fermentation produces a “high-quality sourness” and “ingredients that are good for the body” while the second fermentation produces a “mellow and refreshing aroma.”

Oh, and Calpis’ birthday is 7 July.

Why do we know so much about Calpis? Because our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma recently visited the Calpis Mirai Museum at the Asahi Beverages factory in Gunma Prefecture.

First opened in 2019 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Calpis, the museum offers 90-minute guided tours by prior reservation, with participant numbers capped at 20 per tour. As you might expect, the tours are popular so it can be hard to make a reservation, but Masanuki was recently able to book a spot, and he said it turned out to be an even better experience than he expected.

“Welcome to the Calpis Mirai Museum”

Upon arriving at the museum, Masanuki was welcomed by a huge Calpis bottle that stood about 4 metres (13 feet) high.

Approaching it for a closer look, Masanuki spied a little peep hole on the side of the giant bottle, so he peered into it to find…

▼ …an original bottle of Calpis in a starry sky!

It was a fun way to introduce visitors to the look of the original bottle, and the history that was to follow on the tour, which began just a few moments later. The first thing the guide introduced Masanuki and his fellow tour participants to was the background behind the creator of Calpis, and how the drink developed from Mishima’s trip to Mongolia.

Next, they were taken to a gallery area, where successive packages and advertisements were displayed. The very first iteration of the bottle and its boxed packaging was particularly delightful to see, and Masanuki couldn’t help but hope they might bring it back for a limited release one day.

▼ As the years progressed, so too did the packaging.

Then they were taken to a room that explained the steps involved in manufacturing the drink, with accompanying images and samples to showcase its special aroma.

After observing the production line, where photographs are prohibited, there was only one thing left to do.

▼ Enjoy a tasting at the “Calpis Lab”!

Pouring himself a glass of Calpis, Masanuki was able to enjoy what he describes as “the ultimate Calpis“. He wasn’t sure whether it was because he’d just learned so much about the drink, or because he was drinking it fresh on the site where it was made, but it tasted better than any other Calpis he’s ever had before.

Another perk of taking the tour is the fact that you get to visit the gift shop, which is only open to tour participants. This is where you can buy some rare souvenirs, including the extremely unique drink, “Calpis Hokkaido“, which is known only to those in the know.

▼ Masanuki’s haul: Ramune-flavoured Calpis candies; Calpis Marshmallows; Calpis Hokkaido; Calpis.

With his Calpis senses now finely honed, Masanuki couldn’t wait to try the Calpis Hokkaido, which is a bit of a cult product amongst diehard fans due to its rarity.

▼ Pouring it into a glass, he could see that it had a yellow hue that was different to the white of a regular Calpis.

Taking a sip, he was surprised to find that it didn’t taste wildly different to a regular Calpis. However, Hokkaido is famous for its dairy industry, so it had more of a milky feel to it, and was slightly sweeter and richer.

▼ Like the regular Calpis he grew up with, this was a wonderful-tasting drink, and one he would definitely buy if he ever saw it again.

Masanuki learned so much about Calpis on his trip to the museum, and he highly recommends the tour to anyone who loves the brand as much as he does. And if you just can’t get enough of the drink at home, don’t forget you can always mix it with beer or a hotpot!

Site information
Calpis Mirai Museum / カルピス みらいのミュージアム
Address: Gunma-ken, Tatebayashi, Oshindenmachi 166
Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]