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Japanese Soda: A Fun, Tasty Refresher

By Kim Kahan
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. It is a drink called ‘ramune.’

Ramune is a Japanese soft drink with a fun, innovative design. Widely loved by kids across the world, ramune soda can be found in most Asian supermarkets and even normal supermarkets. ramune is discernible thanks to its distinctive bottle.

This article will tell you a little about ramune and its varieties.

History of Ramune

Ramune, was first introduced to Japan via the foreign settlement (expat community) Kobe in 1884, by the British chemist, Alexander Cameron Sim who brought it over from the UK. Its name is a play on the English word ‘lemonade,’ as the original drink had a subtle lemon flavor. 

Soon after ramune was first introduced, it was touted as a preventative against cholera in the Tokyo Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. This saw it rise in popularity across the country, and soon, it became a fixture across Japan, appearing in Japanese pubs and restaurants everywhere. 

A rubber duckie floats on the water of a barrel full of ramune, a Japanese soda, being chilled by the water.
This soda is a big hit in summer and at summer festivals. Vendors may even just put some in some cold water for you to fish out for yourself. Image via Shutterstock

Want to learn more about this unique Japanese soda? Check out our blog about the history of ramune

The ramune drink is now available across the world, in countries from Germany to India and America. You might find ramune in fancy ‘Japanese’ restaurants, served as a trendy Japanese soft drink.

It is widely available for consumers, too; often at supermarkets with a big Asian or Japanese food section, although our favorite Japanese drink has been known to turn up in tiny local shops too.

Love Japanese sodas like ramune, Fanta, and melon soda? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat sends the fun Japanese snacks, sweets, noodles, and sodas straight from Japan right to your door! So drink up!

Codd Neck Bottle

Aside from its sweet, subtle lemony flavor and fizz, this Japanese soda is perhaps best known for its interesting bottle shape. The neck of the bottle is pinched in such a way that it looks like it is twisted. There is a special reason for this.

The bottle contains a small glass marble, and to drink the ramune inside, drinkers must first push the marble down the neck of the bottle, into the drink. The marble is pushed down into the drink using the special pusher that comes included in the ramune cap. Sometimes it can be quite hard to push in! 

The pinch in the bottle neck acts as a chamber for the marble to stay while the drink is being drunk. So, instead of blocking the top of the bottle, the marble can rest in one of the grooves. Plus, it looks pretty cool, if you ask us!

Two hands work to open a bottle of Japanese soda, ramune, and pushing the signature blue marble into the drink to open it up.
This unique bottle shape is now synonymous with ramune, combining refreshment and fun. Image via Shutterstock

This special bottle shape was actually invented by another British soft drink maker, Hiram Codd, in the 1870s. 

“Why?” We hear you ask. 

Well, the reason for the interesting design of the codd-neck bottle is to preserve the fizziness (carbonation) of the drink. 

Ramune drinks are actually packed upside down, and the marble is held in place by the pressure of the gas. Releasing the marble in turn releases the bubbles. It is said that this design helps to keep the drink’s fizziness. 

The codd-neck bottle is actually still found in some other worldwide drinks, although it is very rare. Ramune is probably the most famous of them all. 

Pro tip: If it’s your first time drinking this Japanese soda, make sure to read the directions on the bottle or our blog about how to open ramune.

Types of Ramune

Ramune has been around for a while – over 100 years, in fact – which means plenty of time for variations on the original. 

The original types of ramune had a subtle, very sweet lemon flavor in a blue glass bottle (with slightly blue glass), and this remains one of the most popular to this very day. 

Pale blue ramune squares of mochi covered in sugar sits in a clear blue bowl on a bamboo placemat with leaves in the background.
Ramune has spawned plenty of snacks and treats, like this ramune mochi (Japanese pounded rice cakes). But we’re sticking just to drinks for now. Image via Shutterstock

Character Ramune

In particular, ramune is very popular with children, thanks to its playful design and the rattling marble that accompanies the act of drinking it. This means that there are many different types of character variations of the iconic Japanese soda drink, with a different label for each new character or popular TV or net series.

Below are just a few examples of the many characters, from Japanese kawaii characters to shonen (young men’s) anime characters, which made it onto a ramune bottle.

There is a special Hello Kitty ramune with a subtle strawberry taste and a fittingly pink bottle and cap. 

You can also find a Demon Slayer ramune, with one character per bottle. Or even a Dragon Ball ramune, from the popular series. Anime characters which are popular with children are always a sure-fire winner.

Ramune Flavors

Different flavors of Japanese soda sit on a shelf in a supermarket, including flavors like grape, strawberry and original ramune.
Sure, flavors like strawberry, grape, and the original are available around the world. However, the coolest and craziest flavors are only available in Japan. Image via Shutterstock

Aside from the original blue/lemon type, many more flavors of the ramune drink have been produced. 

Any taste imaginable, probably has a ramune version, from typical soft drink type flavors to the really strange ones. 

Fruit flavors, such as grape and blueberry, or citrus flavors, like lemon, lime, and orange, are all popular and readily available. All the way through to crazy ramune flavors, such as kimchi, creamy stew, octopus balls, and even chinese chili oil!  

Chinese chili oil soda drink, anyone? 

There are plenty of must-try ramune flavors out there, so keep your eye out for them.

Let us know if you’ve ever tried ramune, or even spotted one in a shop near you. What’s the craziest flavor you’d like to try – or even the strangest one that you have tried?

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