This week I tried Ramune for the very first time. I was watching this Japanese comedy over the weekend and there was this man who had to pretend to be afraid of everything. When he’d open the refrigerator…he’s scream, when he’d turn on the television…he’d scream and when he tried this drink called ramune…he screamed. I watched him open the bottle and thought “What is he doing?” It wasn’t a bottle opener he was using, but I couldn’t quite see what he did to open the bottle. I had heard of Ramune and had even seen bottles of it while strolling around in Japan, but I had never actually seen it opened before. My curiosity was piqued and from that moment, there was no going back. I WANTED TO TRY RAMUNE!!
Ramune is a popular soda here in Japan. On hot days, at festivals, sometimes just outside of shrines, you can find a vendor selling bottles of ramune soda pop (I never say soda pop, it sounds really old-fashioned to me…what do you say?). The soda is a sweet, lemon-flavored beverage that’s very much reminiscent of Sprite. But what makes Ramune so much fun? Is it the bubbles? Is it the refreshing, lemony zing? All of these things make a cold ramune a welcome treat on a sunny afternoon, but what’s most interesting about it is how you drink it. I know that sounds strange but bear with me.
Ramune definely seems to be geared towards children because opening it is kind of like a game. You have to use this plastic lid, a marble, a plastic ring and a the bottleneck to open it. Also, there’s a special method to getting the soda out of the bottle. It’s really neat, and I never would think of something like this. I thought I’d just make pictures of how to do it, but that would take some of the fun away. So I made a video about it instead.
So here’s how to drink Ramune:
Just a quick note. I am a Ramune newbie! In the video I spray Ramune everywhere, so I don’t know if holding down the plastic piece after popping the marble is the best way or not. I did it successfully with two of the plastic ramune bottles. I held the plastic top down, and nothing came out…perfect. Unfortunately, as you saw in the video, I am 0 for 2 on glass bottles. Ah well, I guess I’ll have to drink more ramune to get my bottle poppin’ skills up.
If you just happen to be at a local festival or something you should be able to find a stand selling ramune. I asked an attendant at my local grocery store, and after searching, we were unable to find any. However, I did find Ramune at IIAS Tsukuba (the largest shopping mall in Kanto). There was this store that sells kids masks and toys. They actually had two types of Ramune: Lemon (regular) and Pineapple. I tried them both and have to say that the classic ramune was best.
The prices will vary from store to store and brand to brand. I paid 126 yen at the mall closest to me and 150 at a stand just outside of a shrine in Enoshima. So I’d say 150 and under are pretty standard prices for a bottle of ramune.
I don’t drink a whole lot of soda these days, but if you’re okay with the popular, sugary soda brands (Sprite, Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc.) I think Ramune will do you proud. Plus that bottleneck mechanism is just fun.
“Bottoms up! But, umm, make sure the marble is in the right place or no soda is going to come out.”