A total of 19,450 "azuki bar" popsicles will be handed out for free at five locations across the country on July 1, by manufacturer Imuraya Group Co. Ltd. as part of an annual tradition.
The "azuki bar" iced treat, which contains ingredients such as azuki beans, was first launched by Imuraya in 1973. It has become Imuraya's flagship product, with annual sales rising to 258 million bars in fiscal 2016. In 2008, the firm began to give away popsicles for free on the first day of July, and since 2013, this act of generosity has developed into an annual event.
Adopting the view that July 1 is effectively the real start of summer, Imuraya registered the date as "Imuraya Azuki Bar Day" with the Japan Anniversary Association. As part of its PR campaign, the company promotes the idea that eating an "azuki bar" is an ideal way of beating the summer heat.
The popsicles will be given out at sites in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka -- with two of the five sites being set up in Tokyo. This year will see a record number of free popsicles being handed out.
Of the five locations, the Tokyo Midtown site in the capital's Minato Ward will give away the highest number of popsicles, with some 6,000 bars being prepared. In addition, the company's CEO, Takeo Asada, will give a presentation about the product's history at the Midtown venue from 2:30 p.m. A "special photo space" will also be set up at all five venues for social media photos.
The five venues where the "azuki bar" will be handed out on July 1 are as follows:
Venue 1: Canopy Square, Tokyo Midtown. Five sessions between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 6,000 bars (Akasaka 9-7-1, Minato Ward, Tokyo)
Venue 2: Nagoya Station, "Nana-chan street." Five sessions between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 4,000 bars (Meieki 1-2, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya)
Venue 3: Diamor Osaka D's Square. Seven sessions between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. 5,000 bars (Umeda 1, Kita Ward, Osaka)
Venue 4: Solaria Lion Square in Fukuoka. Five sessions between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 4,000 bars (Tenjin 2-1-1, Chuo Ward, Fukuoka)
Venue 5: Mie Terrace, Nihonbashi, Tokyo. 300 bars from 11 a.m. onward, 150 bars from noon. (Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-4-1, Chuo Ward, Tokyo)