All TopicsNewsCultureJapanese Snacks & CandyFood & DrinkTravelEntertainmentMember Spotlight
TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogExperience Japan Through These Unique and Colorful Japanese Drinks!

Experience Japan Through These Unique and Colorful Japanese Drinks!

By yen
March 25, 2021

Japan is a country well-known for its weird and wonderful cuisine. From traditional Japanese dishes like fermented soy bean natto and salty-spicy pollock roe mentaiko, to modern snacks like cough drop flavored Kit Kats and horse meat ice cream—Japan is a wonderland for adventurous diners looking to challenge their taste buds.

But Japanese food isn’t the only source of unique gustatory experiences—Japanese drinks are another area of unexpected, original delights! Here are some of the most unique Japanese drinks you can find in the land of the rising sun today.

Soft Drinks

A varitey of Japanes ramune flavors

Whether you call them soft drinks, soda, or pop, Japan has you covered when it comes to carbonated sweet drinks. Some of these are obvious—like Coca Cola, which is as readily available in Japanese convenience stores and vending machines as any other Western country. That said, Coca Cola in Japan does come with its own unique twist: limited edition designer bottles! Over the years, Coca Cola Japan has released a plethora of special bottle designs inspired by different Japanese regions, from Tokyo’s omotenashi (hospitality) bottle to the “michinoku” design showcasing three popular summer festivals from Japan’s Tohoku region. Add in the yearly release of limited-edition sakura designs emblazoned with pink cherry blossoms, and Japan is a bottle collector’s paradise.

Luckily, for those of us less interested in fancy designs and catchin’ them all, there are plenty of drinks in Japan that boast one-of-a-kind flavors, too. You’ve probably already heard of ramune, with its unique glass bottle and marble seal, but you might be surprised to hear that on top of its base lemonade flavor, ramune also comes in a number of surprising varieties, including curry, takoyaki, and a troubling “cream stew” flavor. These are definitely not lemonade flavors you’ll find anywhere else!

Quench your thirst this spring with a unique Japanese drink! Subscribe to Tokyo Treat today for a monthly snack box filled with snacks and drinks direct from Japan!

TokyoTreat Japanese subscription box

After ramune, there’s also melon soda. This Japanese classic is a simple mixture of melon flavored syrup and carbonated water, and has been around since at least the 50s. It’s also eye-catching to boot, with its vibrant neon green color making it favorite with kids at family restaurants and cafes. Despite the name, melon soda actually doesn’t taste all that much like melon—instead, it has a mild, sweet, fruity taste. You’ll often see it being used as a base for another popular Japanese drink, cream soda, which is simply melon soda topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream! Another perfect summertime beverage. 

Health Drinks

No list of unique Japanese drinks would be complete without mentioning Calpis, dubbed Calpico in the US. This troublingly named beverage is a milky drink made by lactic acid fermentation, taking its name from a portmanteau of ‘calcium’ and the Sanskrit word for clarified butter, ‘sarpiṣ. Like many fermented milk drinks, Calpis has a range of vaunted health benefits: from aiding digestion to reducing fatigue and high blood pressure. It’s wildly popular in Japan, where it can be found in both carbonated and uncarbonated varieties, and is even a frequent addition to kakigori shaved ice and alcoholic cocktails.

A mixture of ramune and calpis, a refreshing Japanese drink for summer

Calpis’s close cousin is Yakult, another Japanese probiotic yoghurt drink with a similarly milky and mildly acidic taste. Although you can find single-serve and multipack portions of Yakult in supermarkets and convenience stores, true fans of this milky beverage are likely to avail themselves of the services of a so-called “Yakult lady,” a woman you will often see driving a motorbike around Japanese neighbourhoods, delivering these drinks door to door!

Finally, rounding off this category is the popular Pocari Sweat energy drink. Pocari Sweat is a mild, slightly sweet drink intended to replace the body’s supply of electrolytes and nutrients after exertion—hence the surprising use of the word ‘sweat,’ which can be off-putting for English speakers! Pocari Sweat—and its competitor, Aquarius—is a mainstay not only of sporting events but Japanese summers, when you’ll find it stocked in nearly every vending machine and convenience store you pass. It’s the perfect answer to Japan’s hottest, most humid season.

Alcoholic Drinks

Speaking of fermentation, there is, of course, another popular fermented drink in Japan that isn’t quite so healthy: Japanese sake! Sake is an alcoholic drink made of fermented rice that has been polished to remove the bran. Called nihonshu in Japan, sake comes in countless varieties, generally categorized according to their nihonshu-do (alcohol and sugar level), san-do (acid level) and aminosan-do (umami level). With so much variation, there’s something for every palate. If you’re of age, sake is the quintessentially Japanese drink not to be missed!

A variety of Japanese ramune soda

If you can’t find something to your taste, however, don’t worry! Japan has plenty of other alcoholic beverages to wet your whistle. Shochu, for example, is a Japanese alcoholic drink made through distillation. Compared to sake, shochu has an earthier taste that varies widely according to the starch used in the distillation. Then there’s umeshu, or Japanese plum wine, which combines Japanese ume plums with sugar and shochu or sake to create a sweet, fruity alcoholic drink popular with light drinkers. Last but not least is chuhai, one of Japan’s most popular mixed alcohol drinks, which combines shochu with carbonated water in a variety of different flavors, from lemon to pineapple, lychee, strawberry, and even cream soda. Sake might have made its mark as Japan’s national alcoholic beverage, but there’s plenty of other drinks to choose from!

Tea

Finally, is any list of Japanese drinks complete without a mention of tea? While black teas were briefly produced in Japan, today, the market is dominated by green tea, and in particular matcha, the famous bright green tea powder used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Indeed, matcha is so popular it has spawned a whole category of Japanese drinks, from matcha lattes to milkshakes and frappuccinos. 

A glass of Japanese ices tea mixed with ramune

Besides matcha and sencha, matcha’s less famous, loose-leafed equivalent, Japan is also the birthplace of hojicha and genmaicha, which build on a sencha base to create different green tea flavors. Hojicha, made by roasting Japanese tea leaves, has a nutty aroma and no caffeine, while genmaicha combines sencha with roasted rice for an earthy, toasted flavor.

Finally, there are the teas made from things other than tea leaves, of which mugicha and sobacha are the most famous varieties. Mugicha is a type of barley tea that is particularly popular served cold throughout the summer, while sobacha uses the roasted buckwheat kernels from which Japanese soba noodles are made.

As you can see, Japan has a whole range of unique beverages for every occasion. Whether you’re looking for something with a punch or simply a nice cup of tea, Japan is sure to have the perfect drink to quench your thirst—and surprise your tastebuds!

Enjoy Delicious Japanese Candy And Snacks Every Month!

Starting from $32.50 USD
Get TokyoTreat
Author avatar
yen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy Delicious Japanese Candy And Snacks Every Month!

Starting from $32.50 USD
Get TokyoTreat

Related Articles

Yakisoba: A Festival And Street Food Classic

May 20, 2022

Ask a Japanese person to think of popular street foods, and many of them will answer yakisoba (Japanese stir-fried noodles).

Japanese Crepes: Japan’s Spin On a French Classic

May 10, 2022

The crepe is an iconic piece of French cuisine, often using the finest ingredients. But hop on over to Tokyo’s Harajuku area, and you’ll see plenty of people walking around and enjoying the Japanese spin on the dish.

Yakitori – The Quick Tasty Way To Enjoy Chicken

May 01, 2022

Simple. Fast. Delicious. Chicken. Barbecue. There’s no better way to enjoy chicken than Yakitori. Think it’s just chicken on a skewer? Think again.

Japanese Soda: A Fun, Tasty Refresher

April 16, 2022

When thinking about Japanese soda flavors, one in particular is the most popular. We know what you’re thinking but no, it’s not radioactive green melon soda.

Top Japanese Guilty Pleasure Foods for Spring 2022

March 24, 2022

Looking forward to the 2022 springtime seasonal menus in Japan? We have a list of specialty foods to keep your eyes out for!

Japanese Tofu Dishes: Tofu Made Tasty

March 24, 2022

One of the oldest foods in history, tofu has been constantly changed and redefined over Japan’s long culinary history.


Be a TokyoTreat Insider!

Join our newsletter and receive tasty news and deals!



Accepted Payments
Visa payment availableMastercard payment availableAmerican Express payment availableDiscover payment availablePayPal payment available


Be a TokyoTreat Insider!

Join our newsletter and receive tasty news and deals!


Copyright © 2022 TokyoTreat™. All Rights Reserved.
Accepted Payments
Visa payment availableMastercard payment availableAmerican Express payment availableDiscover payment availablePayPal payment available