Ramune: The Japanese Summer Soda
Ramune is a Japanese carbonated soft drink sold all over East Asia, most commonly known for its bottle. Ramune is also infamous for being difficult to open, requiring a special technique and piece of plastic that comes with the lid. While most soft drinks in Japan taste somewhat similar, the taste of ramune is also nothing special, but its package makes it a fun souvenir, or an interesting encounter with yet another peculiar thing about Japan.
History of Ramune
Although ramune is considered a Japanese product, the drink (and bottle) was originally introduced to Japan by the British in the 1880s.
Ramune is a lemon flavored soft drink, that has also given the soft drink its name. “Lemon” was Japanized into “remon” and is now known as “ramune” or ラムネ in katakana. The peculiar bottle is also an English concept, the codd-neck bottle, was first introduced by British soft drink maker Hiram Codd in 1872. Inside the bottle, a marble seals the soft drink, until the marble is pushed down to the bottle neck. This bottle type was commonly used for carbonated drinks in the United Kingdom, but today it’s a rare sight, unless you are holding a bottle of ramune in your hands.
Ramune has become a symbol of Japanese culture, through its popularity in pop culture, especially being featured in anime and manga. It is most popular in the summer, but you will be able to find ramune all year round in Japan. Due to its popularity, other ramune flavored snacks and drinks are sold in Japanese supermarkets, elevating the soft drink's importance in Japan.
How to Open
What confuses most people in their first encounter with a ramune bottle, is how on earth the bottle should be opened. When removing the plastic cap, you’ll discover that a glass marble is attached to the tip of the bottle neck. Various tutorials are available online for those looking for them, they will often easily explain how the bottle should be opened. When buying a bottle, you will also notice that detailed instructions on how to open it are provided. Due to a lot people overlooking this, the bottled drink has become infamous for being impossible to open, or being a waste of time.
But once you have learned how to open it, you can easily enjoy the contents of the bottle. The secret is to not misplace any of the plastics that comes with the bottle, as you will need a specific piece of plastic attached to the lid, to open it. Once you have identified this, you will use this to push down the marble into the bottle neck, and open the bottle to have access to its contents.
Summer’s Drink of Choice
Bottles of ramune make interesting and fun souvenirs to bring back to your home country, in fact ramune bottles are stupidly overpriced abroad and online. In Japan these fun soft drinks are most popular in summertime where shops will stock on many varieties, and the drinks become a must at festivals and outdoor events. Ramune’s most popular and original flavor is its lemon flavor, but over the years many more flavors of the drink have become available in Japan. Whether you prefer strawberry or green tea, you will find bottles upon bottles of ramune flavors for sale in Japan during summertime. If soft drinks are not your thing, we do recommend buying a bottle of ramune to undergo the experience of opening a bottle and celebrating the summer.