After my semi-regular pilgrimage to Mitsuwa Marketplace today for Santouka Ramen (always the #9 – large shio ramen with special pork) I decided to pop my first Ramune today. In case you don’t know, Ramune is a carbonated soft drink popular with the younger set in Japan. Over the years I’ve managed to sample most of the popular items with Japanese kids – Pocky, etc. – but somehow Ramune always eluded me.
Ramune appeals to me because I really think it represents some of the quirkiness of Japanese culture. Drinking it is as much a game as a dining experience – it’s certainly the first bottled beverage I’ve had to Google instructions to open. The bottle has a list of precautions longer than a list of ingredients – it’s a little intimidating. In the end it’s pretty straightforward. really – you have to use the plunger built into the cap to puncture the seal, which causes a little glass marble to drop down into the bottle and make the thing go crazy with carbonation so that you have to press down on the top for about 15 seconds to avoid a bath. The most interesting element is drinking it – that glass marble floats around the neck of the bottle and it’s sort of like that toy where you have to get the marble into the clowns eye. There are little depressions on either side of the bottle and you have to shake the marble into the depressions to drink the drink. If that sounds bizarre – and how could it not – it’s actually sort of fun.
Oh, and how does it taste? Well, I really don’t think that’s the point – but for what it’s worth, it’s not bad. The default flavor seems to be slightly citrus – maybe lemon – but it comes in a bunch of other flavors too, some of them with Doraemon and Pocket Monsters on the bottle. No mystery who the target audience is here.