While I preferred the Kirin Lager beer, my next best favorite was Asahi Dry (or Super Dry).
I never saw a differentiation in package design for much of anything back then, as I think brand owners were always afraid they would lose customers if a package's look was so different from the norm.
Obviously that's not the case.
Why do it? Change the graphic representation of your established brand?
I think brand owners are smart enough to realize that when it comes to brands such as Coca-Cola or Asahi, consumers will spend that extra time to make sure they get exactly what they want - regardless of how it looks.
Plus, there's a collector's market out there.
Even I, with my limited desk space at work have four cool Coca-Cola products (an original can I never opened from just before they went to New Coke, a can with MY name on it that the people at Coca-Cola Canada were kind enough to make for me and send to me. They also did one for my wife Colette and son Hudson, though he threw his away after chugging it back at school.
I also have one of those spectacular Diet Coke bottles that are covered in modern art, and are printed (and cut) so that no two bottles in the world will ever look the same.
And I have one celebrating Coca-Cola's 100th anniversary as a bottler in Canada (1906-1916).
Decades past, and just before I went to Japan, while in Japan I collected beer bottles i had drunk commemorating some sort of religious theme: Santa Claus beer, El Diablo, Pope's 1880... stuff like that.
People like art... nice things... and in the case of Suntory and Coca-Cola Japan, they are delivering them...
... even if the theme is (ho-hum) cherry (sakura) blossoms... just in time for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season in Japan.
If it's not Mt. Fuji, it's sakura, oh sakura. I suppose both the the two iconic images that the Japanese could say represents them.
But, for the rest of the world, it would be geisha, ninja, samurai, shinkansen (bullet trains), Godzilla and Gamera, sushi (though most people confuse it sashimi - thinly sliced raw meat), and even kimono (the plural of kimono is kimono - in fact, in regard to the plural of all things Japanese, there is no apostrophe "s").
Regardless... the Coke and Asahi (Suntory) consumables are not for the foreign market, and are for the Japanese market... as such... perhaps if you would like these limited edition cans/bottle, you should reach out and try and make friends with someone there.
I am not there. Go make your own friends.
Oh... and last Sunday I wrote about how I should take my son to see the Harlem Globetrotters... well, later that night a commercial appeared on TV, and lo and behold the Globetrotters were coming to town in April... so I bough three tickets.
There were only three levels of ticket available... and so I bought the middle range. Did you know that after paying some $20/ticket in service charges on top of the ticket price, the cost was actually $9 (in total) more than what it would have cost to go see the professional NBA Toronto Raptors game.
I can only hope snacks at this non-downtown Toronto event are cheaper... I already know there's free parking... but still... the prices are ridiculous... and what sucks is that they are NOT upfront about what the extra fees are.
Yes, they state that there are service charges in addition to the ticket price, but they don't tell you what the service charges are until you spend all the time and effort to actually purchase them.
It's like going to the movies... $32 for two tickets... $35 for the snacks. And they wonder WHY people are not going to the theater? People love the experience, but hate being ripped off. That's why, after a while, people find alternative things to do with their time and money.