Travellers hankering for unique Japanese adventures will find their needs answered in Suita-Asahidori shopping district, only minutes on the train from central Osaka. According to Singaporean cosplayer and creator, Yosuke, this lively arcade provides excellent shopping and cuisine choices, a diverse variety of activities, and the chance to encounter authentic Japanese culture.
During her Suita-Asahidori adventure, Yosuke visited the red brick building of the Asahi brewery, excited to experience the factory tour, which includes beer tastings!
With a history of more than a hundred years, the company is proud of its past while also embracing the future. During the tour, Yosuke and other visitors learned how Asahi produced the first canned beer in Japan as well as its current commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals in reducing the amount of waste the company creates. A slick introductory video presentation, the story of “Yum!”, outlines how the brand is evolving beyond its popular signature beverage, Asahi Super Dry, with an increasing focus on the diverse ways people enjoy their drinks.
The facilities themselves are stunning in their complexity and quality. Windows along the path expose the shiny inner workings of shutes, conveyors and silos, while strapping on some VR goggles allows visitors to literally dive into the beer making process. The tour even includes an immersive 4D roller coaster experience that follows the journey of a can through the belly of the factory!
The multi-sensory tour succeeds in increasing anticipation. Fortunately for thirsty guests, the final twenty minutes is tasting time! Polite and professional staff man the various booths providing exclusive offerings, such as sub-zero Asahi Dry, low alcohol Beery, or a beer with printed bubbles!
For her two complimentary drinks, Yosuke took on a fun, interactive challenge and poured her own beer as well as making her own original lemonade cocktail, with differing levels of sweetness and alcohol content.
The beer, straight from the factory floor, is fresh and easy to drink. After the tour concluded, the giggly group of participants descended on the souvenir shop. Yosuke considered the beer glasses, key rings, even an alcohol-soaked cake in a beer keg. In the end, she bought a tenugui cloth to decorate her fridge in Singapore, which, aptly, contains Asahi beer.
After such a tasty beginning to her adventure, it was time to savour the charms of Suita-Asahidori shopping district. The street has been a hub for the local community and customers for one hundred years, celebrating its centenary in January 2024. It is known for its “Showa retro” meets youth culture appeal and is home to lively supermarkets full of fresh produce, cafes, street food and shopping. While strolling through the arcade, Yosuke enjoyed some free coffee provided by local university students running their own stall.
Wakodosei Pan is one of the popular bakeries on the street, known for its chilli dogs with cheese sauce, and crunchy roast pork sandwiches made with the softest, just baked bread. Customers can enjoy their pastries in the chic space above the shop. Bushels of wheat, Japanese prints and a projection of a babbling brook on the wall set an atmosphere of calm, while power outlets and free wifi are a thoughtful addition for travellers.
Wakodosei Pan’s owners attribute their recent move into Suita-Asahidori shopping district to the various events held here. Twice annual coffee events, a jazz and gospel celebration in October, and “Asacosu” a cosplay event held three times a year.
Suita-Asahidori shopping district has welcomed cosplayers enthusiastically. Meeting at Takahama shrine, attendees receive coupons with their entrance fees to enjoy food and snacks from local businesses. During the Asacosu events, it is normal to see blue haired and purple eyed cosplayers enjoying takoyaki before strolling along the street. Yosuke was impressed. “Other places in Japan can be strict, but here, everyone is walking around normally. Seeing the characters outside really brings their characters to life.”
Within Takahama jinja, where the main cosplay action occurs, there is a strong community vibe and lots of laughter. With its traditional buildings and red inari gates, the shrine has become a popular photoshoot spot for both anime-costume-clad characters and families in kimono during the autumn Shichigo-san festival. Throughout the year, Takahama jinja also offers a shrine maiden experience, where participants not only look the part of a miko, but learn how to fold paper charms and the correct way to pray to Shinto gods. An elderly Japanese couple who stumbled upon Asacosu while visiting the shrine watched on in amusement as groups practised their dance moves, enjoying the spectacle and showing an example of how open-minded the Suita community is.
While Asacosu is a special event to be kept on the calendar, visitors can enjoy the cultural experience of wearing kimono at any time of year at Akitaya. Surrounded by silk in every colour and pattern, Yosuke was given the daunting but pleasurable task of choosing which she would like to wear, narrowing her choices down to a cream, light blue or a gorgeous, spring-like pink kimono. Young women in their twenties typically wear the brightly patterned furisode with its distinctive long sleeves. All kimonos are tied with a belt, called an obi, which is also richly decorated.
Even Yosuke, with her fashion background, felt a little overwhelmed as she weighed up her choices. Should she go with the cuter pink? Or the cooler look of the gold? What would be the best balance between belt and kimono? The professionals supported her with their suggestions and after all the difficult decisions were made, two, tiny, tough women tightened and twisted the kimono into place. The final touch: an original obi knot, individual to each customer.
Kansai people are known for their chattiness and open hearts. Suita-Asahidori shopping district welcomes and encourages all visitors to come and enjoy their vibrant arcade. Eat amazing food, shop in friendly stores, and experience the variety of activities from beer tours to kimono photoshoots all within one convenient location.