Student-created Craft Cola Quenches Thirst of Mie Pref.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Students who made craft cola using locally produced rice

TSU — Online orders for craft cola developed by local high school students and a chamber of commerce have been flooding in since the drink was released in mid-December.

Developed by students at Mie Prefectural Hakusan High School and private Aoyama High School, both located in the Hakusan-cho area of Tsu, the beverage is made from locally sourced rice, among other ingredients, and has already sold 400 bottles online and via other channels.

Development of the beverage began in July last year when the chamber of commerce wanted to include the ideas of young locals into a project for creating an attractive new product amid the ongoing depopulation of the area.

Students came up with the idea of producing craft cola, a carbonated beverage made of citrus fruits and spices. After tasting existing craft cola, they decided to use locally grown rice, a specialty of the area. With the help of a manufacturing company in Nabari, Mie Prefecture, the students produced samples of the soda in their home economics classroom at Hakusan High School, among other places.

After making several samples, the students were in two minds about which one to put on the market — either the one made with rice, or the other made with rice powder. To help them decide, they asked 1,183 people visiting the local Tsu Matsuri festival in October to taste the two to get feedback.

Both types proved popular, so the students decided to release both: the Hakusan High School version that has a distinctive rice flavor and spicy taste, and the Aoyama High School version that has a slightly, thick consistency as a result of using rice powder.

Both schools adopted different approaches to designing the label, with Hakusan School students featuring baseball equipment and the sun to represent youth, while Aoyama High School students incorporated the soda’s ingredients, including cinnamon, rice and lemons.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The two kinds of craft cola produced by high school students in Mie Prefecture

A 200g bottle of liquid concentrate (¥1,944 including tax) is available online at the Mienaka online store