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Japanese Soda: The Best Fun, Tasty Refresher

Kim KahanKim Kahan
Published Time
Posted on 
April 16, 2022
Modified Time
Updated last 
January 20, 2023

When thinking about Japanese soda flavors, one in particular is the most popular. We know what you’re thinking, but it’s not green melon soda–it’s ramune!

Ramune is a Japanese soft drink with a fun, innovative design. Widely loved by kids worldwide, ramune soda can be found in most Asian supermarkets and even regular supermarkets. Ramune is discernible thanks to its distinctive bottle and especially its distinct taste!

History of Ramune

Ramune was first introduced to Japan via the foreign settlement (ex-pat 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 particularly subtle lemon flavor. 

Soon after ramune was 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 just put 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 worldwide, in countries from Germany to India and America. As a matter of fact, 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 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 exciting bottle shape. The neck of the bottle has a pinch in the middle, giving it a twisty look, but why is that?

Well, the bottle contains a small glass of 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 glass using the special pusher included in the ramune cap. Sometimes it can be pretty hard to push in! 

The bottleneck’s pinch is a chamber that holds the marble while drinking the ramune. 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

Another British soft drink maker, Hiram Codd, invented this unique bottle shape in the 1870s. The reason for the exciting design of the codd-neck bottle is to preserve the fizziness (carbonation) of the drink. 

Manufacturers pack the ramune drinks upside down, and the marble stays in place due to the pressure of the gas. Releasing the marble, in turn, releases the bubbles. Apparently, this design helps to keep the drink’s fizziness. 

The codd-neck bottle is still common with other worldwide drinks, although it is scarce. Ramune is probably the most famous of them all! If it’s your first time drinking this Japanese soda, read the directions on the bottle or our blog about how to open ramune!

Types of Ramune

Ramune is an over-100-year-old drink, which means plenty of time for variations on the original. 

The original types of ramune had a subtle, delightful lemon flavor in a blue glass bottle (with slightly blue glass), which remains one of the most popular today. 

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 cake). 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 drinking it. This means many character variations of the iconic Japanese soda drink, with another label for each new character or popular TV or net series.

Below are 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 that are popular with children are always sure-fire winners.

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 worldwide. However, the most incredible and craziest flavors are only available in Japan. Image via Shutterstock

Aside from the original blue/lemon type, there are so many more ramune flavors out there! Any taste imaginable probably has a ramune version, from typical flavors like cola to the more unusual, like seafood!

Fruit flavors, such as grape, 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!  

There are plenty of must-try ramune flavors out there, so keep your eye out for them. Tell us if you’ve ever tried ramune or 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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