Ramune: A Must-Try Drink in the Summer in Japan

One of the many seasons that most kids are excited for every year is the summer season. The beach looks extra inviting when the sun is shining down on earth on a hot day. There is nothing more exciting than taking a dip in the pool or any body of water that would ease the heat and help cool down the body. Due to the high temperature that the summer season brings, there are also various foods and beverages that people especially look forward to, to quench the thirst caused by the heat. The most popular food during summer is ice cream. Despite the fact that it melts easily under the scorching sun. People still gravitate towards eating ice cream because not only does it provide a cold feeling in the mouth, but the flavor also provides pleasure to the taste buds.

Fruit juices and soft drinks are also hit, especially during the summer season. Not only do they quench the thirst, but they also provide a sense of relief after drinking. Especially soda drinks, they give off that fizz in the mouth. Probably the most well-known soda drink worldwide is Coca-Cola. On the other hand, locally in Japan, the most famous soft drink in japan is Ramune.

Ramune: The Soda to Drink in the Land of the Sun

A carbonated soft drink in Japan, Ramune is famous throughout the country. There are various theories as to where the soda drink originated. One theory suggests that Ramune was introduced in the year 1853 by an American Naval Commodore by the name of Matthew Perry. It is said that he served the soda drinks to several shogunate officials. Another theory suggests that it was first introduced and sold by Hannbee Fujise in the year 1865. Sold in Nagasaki, Japan, Ramune was believed to be sold under the name of “remon sui,” translating to “lemon water” in English.

On the other hand, probably the most accepted theory as to where Ramune originally came from is the one related to Alexander Cameron Sim. Of Scottish descent, it is believed that Sim, a pharmacist and an entrepreneur, was the first to introduce the soda drink to the Kobe Foreign Settlement in the year 1872. It was first made popular to the public when it was advertised as a preventive for cholera in the Tokyo Mainichi Newspaper. The term “ramune” was apparently taken from the English word “lemonade.” However, do not mistake this to the actual lemonade from the West as they are still different from each other. Lemonade is known as reome-do or remoneedo in Japanese.

Probably the most well-known fact about ramune soda drinks is its packaging. Due to the iconic Codd-neck bottles designed by an inventor by the name of Hiram Codd that contain ramune, the popularity of this soda drink flourished in the year 1888. Made of glass and sealed with a marble, the pressure of the carbonation in the soda drink holds the codd head of the bottle in place. This bottle design was commonly used for sodas and other carbonated drinks back in the day, but the usage of this item has ceased through the years. Among its few current users worldwide is Ramune.

Also Ramune soda drinks are now sold in typical PET bottles and can though this kind of packaging is not as popular as the Codd-neck bottle ones. The locals see value on the original packaging of ramune as it also provides that nostalgic feeling. Access to ramune is easy as they are usually sold at Japanese festivals, also known as matsuri in Japanese. After drinking, most people return the bottles for reuse and recycle.

How to Open Ramune: The Bottle and the Marble

The fun in drinking ramune starts at opening the bottle. Due to its atypical design, not many people are aware as to how to open the bottle. The first step is, of course, to remove the outer wrapper located at the top portion of the bottle.  This serves as a seal that it has not been opened before and the drink is fresh inside. Upon taking off the seal, there is a plunger topper and a plastic ring placed on top of the bottle. These are not tight and can be taken off easily.

Set the plunger topper and plastic ring aside. On the bottle itself, one will then see the soda marble placed just inside the top opening of the bottle. The exciting part is when one would put the plunger topper on top of the marble. After which, push it down until the marble finally falls into the wide portion of the neck of the bottle, also called the marble chamber. This is where the marble will remain as one drinks it.

There is always a possibility of the marble blocking the flow of the liquid inside the bottle. There are certain bottles that actually have two tiny grooves on just one side of the marble chamber that serves as the container of the marble. The trick is to let the marble roll towards the two tiny grooves while drinking from the bottle, which will hinder the marble from rolling any further. Another tip to prevent the marble from blocking the liquid is to avoid tilting the bottle too high.

How hard one pops the marble into the bottle may also give varying results. Popping it in slow ensures that minimal or no spill would occur. However, popping it in hard may cause a mess as the carbonated drink may fizz all the way up. Still, this may be part of the fun for some people who would want to get the overall experience of opening a bottle of ramune.

The design of the bottle itself has also been improved to better cater customers. Back in the year 2006, a new version of the bottle was introduced. Tiny slots were added to the cap of the bottle where the marble is also placed in. This is a type of mitigation just in case the marble somehow falls back into the cap; flow from obstruction could then be prevented.

Opening the bottle for the first time may not be perfect; some liquid may leak, spray, or spill the first few tries. It may take some practice before actually being able to open the bottle perfectly. However, it is the experience of being able to open a bottle of this design that is fun. A number of people even view this experience as a must when visiting the Land of the Sun.

The Many Flavors of Ramune: Original, Candy, Strawberry, Melon, Etc.

Through the years, the flavors of Ramune have developed. The main ingredients of ramune soda are high fructose corn syrup, acidulants, calcium lactate, and flavoring. There are at least 37 flavors of ramune in Japan. The most popular flavor of all time is the original flavor which is lemon-lime. Many believe that the original flavor of ramune tastes similar to that of Sprite. However, there is still something distinct that the original flavor of ramune offers to its consumers.

For those who are into fruity flavors, there are several that one can try. The typical fruit flavor that most people try is the green apple. However, if one would like a more zesty and tangy taste, then opt for the lemonade, orange, blueberry, or raspberry flavor. This will surely tingle one’s taste buds. On the other hand, for a slightly sweet taste, one can go for banana, kiwi, melon, strawberry, pomelo, or watermelon flavor. For people with a sweet tooth, or rather tongue, then going for the cherry, grape, lychee, mango, peach, plum, or pineapple flavor are recommended. For more refreshing and hydrating drink, a great choice would be the coconut flavor.

If one would like to drink something that can be eaten, then ramune with food flavors is the best for you. The candy and chocolate flavors would surely be a treat for those with a sweet tooth. Hence, this is also recommended for kids who love sweets. For those who are curious what it would be like to have soups for a carbonated drink, then try out the corn potage, cream stew, or curry flavor, though these are not exactly for everyone’s taste.

Ramune also offers spicy flavors. One may not be able to imagine what it tastes like to drink a carbonated beverage that tastes spicy, hence. This is the chance to be able to experience that. Flavors like chili oil, kimchi, and wasabi are available as ramune soda drinks. However, be cautious when drinking these flavors as the spiciness level may differ. As for the mild ones who only want a bit of sweetness in their marble soda, they can opt for the sweet, bubblegum, and vanilla flavors.

On the other hand, if unusual is what one is looking for, then look no further. Ramune soda drinks also come in octopus and takoyaki flavor. Whether these taste better than the usual ones, trying them out is the only way to find out. The drink also comes in regular soda flavors like cola and root beer, so it would taste just like the normal soda sold in other stores. Last but certainly not the least, if one is looking for a surprise, then ramune soda drinks definitely has something for one. Flavors like disco dance, flaming, blue Hawaii, and mystery are offered to consumers. Just the name of the flavors themselves already has one wondering if it would taste good or weird. Definitely, drink at one’s own risk.

Other flavors that can also be of interest are the muscat, yogurt, Hello Kitty strawberry, sparkling white champagne, Hello Kitty soda, and yuzu flavor. The bottles are made of glass so the vibrant colors of the different flavors can be seen from the inside. This adds a pop of color to the drink. It is also worth noting that there are two sizes of bottles of ramune. Children and light drinkers can opt for the regular size while heavy drinkers of ramune can avail the giant bottle for consumption.

Enjoying the Marble Soda of Japan

Ramune is indeed best enjoyed during the summer season. The product serves as a symbol of the summer season in Japan. Usually stored in chillers or submerged in iced water, many people avail of this soda drink under the heat of the sun. During the day, most locals drink this while strolling through the park, just to help quench their thirst while walking under the rays of the sun. Famous among the general public, both young children and adults, the ramune soda drink is considered as the national soft drink of Japan.

At night, several people pop bottles of ramune marble soda to release the heat from their bodies while enjoying the cold drink. Not only are there several flavors to choose from, but the temperature that it has provides relief to the people who are feeling hot from staying under the sun for a certain period of time. Most, if not all, ramune soft drinks are not just great to taste, but also provides that refreshing feeling to the body when drank. Add to that the fizz that gives delight to the taste buds and awakens the senses, the ramune soft drink is an experience in a bottle.

For those who reside outside of Japan but wish to try a bottle of ramune, there are certain Asian supermarkets that sell bottles of these. People living in San Francisco can get the Shirakiku brand Ramune. As for others, there are several sellers on Amazon that offer different brands of ramune, almost all of which are packaged in the famous Codd-neck bottles. On the other hand, the ramune soda drink is definitely a must-try for people who are visiting Japan. Popping a ramune soft drink bottle open and indulging one’s self that cold, fizzy drink during a hot summer day would certainly be a different experience altogether.