Often, foreigners are surprised at the strange drinks they see in vending machines and stores in Japan. Over 1,000 soft drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages are developed in Japan annually, so the shelf life is quite short in some cases. Here are examples of odd drinks that have come and gone over the past few years.
1. PEPSI Ice Cucumber
PEPSI Ice Cucumber appeared on the market in July 2007. The bold new flavor surprised not only Japanese people, but many Americans who found it weird, to say the least.
2. Hot Calpis
Calpis has a sweet yogurt taste with a milk base. It comes in various fruity flavors and has long been popular in Japan. Of course, the running joke for native English speakers is that “Calpis” sounds similar to “cow piss,” so the drink has always been made fun of. The brand is called “Calpico” in other countries.
3. Black vinegar (Kurozu)
Black vinegar (Kurozu) is considered a healthy and tasty drink. But just how do they make it tasty? Japanese people mix black vinegar with soy milk, blood orange juice and blueberry juice to make it easier to drink.
4. Water Salad (by Coca Cola Japan)
Water Salad is, as the name suggests, water with a salad flavor. Coca-Cola says it uses a centrifuge to extract the essence from romaine lettuce.
5. Diet Water (Sapporo Beverage)
Diet Water is touted for anyone wanting to lose weight. It has no calories and very little of anything else. Why not just call it water?
6. Final Fantasy Potion
Square Enix and Suntory teamed up for this herbal drink to cash in on the popular role-playing game “Final Fantasy.” It contained such ingredients as royal jelly, propolis extract, elderberry, chamomile, sage, thyme, hyssop, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, basil, Melissa, carbonated water, caffeine and artificial coloring.
7. Canned Coffee
Canned coffee has many brands. For example, Coca Cola Japan’s Georgia Deeppresso sounds like “depressed” and Sangaria Beverage’s “GOD coffee” can’t help but make one wonder if that is what they are serving in heaven.
8. Kodomo (Child) Beer
“Kodomo (Child) Beer” sounds like beer for kids or non-alcoholic beer. However, Kodomo Beer is actually a carbonated soft drink called Guarana. The manufacturer says it chose the name Kodomo Beer just for fun and added that it sells about 100,000 bottles a month.
If you know of any other strange drinks, let’s hear about them in the comments below.
Guaraná soft drinks (what Kodomo “Child Beer” actually is) are extremely popular in Brazil, especially the “Antarctica” brand, which is a national institution. They are made from the extract of the fruit and seeds of a bush from the Amazon region. Natural guaraná extract has an extremely high caffeine content (several times more than coffee or tea), but the soft drink is diluted, has much less than a regular Coke, and is hardly capable of making anyone sleepless at night. Guaraná soft drinks are more like a very sweet carbonated herbal tea and don’t taste even remotely like beer, so I have no idea why they decided to call it that. Considering that there are now something like 2 million homesick Brazilians of Japanese ancestry living and working in Japan, nearly all guaraná lovers, if they branded it as “guaraná” they would probably sell much more than 100,000 bottles a month.