The Top Ten Weird and Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks

Japan has a drinking problem... but if you've got a thirst for adventure, it's where you want to be.

In honor (or in horror) of these bizarre beverages seemingly not fit to rinse your septic tank, raise a cracked glass to the Top Ten Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks, our first ten inductees into the Soft Drink Hell of Fame... Jeers!

Our rundown of the Top Ten Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks gives a pretty good indication why most of the 1000 or so new soft drinks and beverages launched in Japan every year fail miserably.

Look on the bright side, though: they may not be good to drink, but you can't say they're not good for a laugh.

10) Pepsi Ice Cucumber: It's lean, green and sounds obscene

When American companies introduce products tailored for foreign tastes, we often experience discomfiting culture shock. Sort of like when Homer Simpson uses his toaster time machine to go back 10 million years, steps on a slug, and then comes back to an oddly different world. Maybe that really did happen, and Springfield is now Tokyo!

Exhibit A: Pepsi Ice Cucumber, introduced to the Japanese soft drinks market and Pepsi vending machines on June 12th (2007) and to our Top Ten Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks listing immediately thereafter. Pepsi? Good... Cucumbers? Great! Cucumber-flavored Pepsi? DOH!!

9) Hot Calpis: the drink that makes you think - about NOT drinking it

Cue suave voiceover: "Next time you're out on the town with the one you love, treat her to a cup of Hot Calpis"... then trudge home alone after she pours it over your head. Yes, delicious Calpis - I can't even read it without grinning - is known as Calpico in other countries (for obvious reasons) and is one of Japan's most popular and enduring soft drinks .

Milk-based with a sweet yogurt taste, Calpis comes in original and a variety of fruit flavors. Some drink vending machines offer this bizarre beverage hot... steaming hot.

8) Coolpis: Who wouldn't want to drink something with a name like Coolpis?

Ahh, refreshing Coolpis... THE soft drink to offer guests - before removing their blindfolds. Actually a Korean copy of the disturbingly named Calpis, Coolpis comes in Peach flavor and (stop reading now, if you can...) Kimchee flavor.

Kimchee, for those unacquainted, is a traditional Korean dish made from fermented cabbage and LOTS of red pepper. Makes Peach flavored Coolpis almost appealing, doesn't it? Anyone for a Calpis vs. Coolpis taste test? We could call it a pis-ing contest.

7) Mother's Milk: the breast-tasting drink ever!

And now, for something close to the heart... Mother's Milk. Is there anything in the world more wholesome, more natural, more life-giving than mother's milk? Is there anything in the world that would make you drink it from a store bought carton? NO, on both counts. If I was a baby, maybe, but not from an udder - I mean, another - mother!

I shudder to think of the scene inside one of the manufacturer's factories... those poor farmgirls, milkmaids or what have you, shackled up to cold, pitiless machines that never, ever stop... and then I woke up.


6) Black Vinegar Juice Bar: dispenses acid trips

After chugging down a pint of Mother's Milk, head on down to your local Black Vinegar Juice bar to give it a good curdling. Black vinegar is noted for its health benefits; the trouble has always been making it drinkable.

Mixing it into bizarre soft drinks with soy milk, blood orange juice or blueberry juice is supposed to solve that problem, but we remain skeptical. At least you can splash some on the salad (via Plastic Bamboo).

5) Speaking of which, consider Water Salad... for what, we're not sure...

The creative types at Coca-Cola (yes, THAT Coca-Cola) who devised Water Salad are probably still shell-shocked from the New Coke and C2 soft drink fiascos and wouldn't risk another..or would they?

Water Salad is... well... salad-flavored water. You know, the stuff you get after centrifuging your rinsed romaine in the salad spinner. Funny, we pour it down the drain here; in Japan they can it and put it up for sale in a varied selection of flavors. Not laughing now, are you, smart guy?? (via Trendhunter)


4) Diet Water: all the taste and none of the calories of regular water. Huh?


And now, from the "selling ice to the Eskimos" department, we bring you Diet Water: the soft drink for the soft headed. "None of that rich, fattening Perrier for me, I'm serious about shedding pounds!" Not to mention shedding money. "Diet Water of the rich and famous"? We're not sure what the appeal of Diet Water is... maybe it has negative calories.

3) Final Fantasy Potion drinks: for those who think life really IS a game

Got a gamer at your house who lives, breathes and eats role-playing games like Final Fantasy? Now you can add "drinks" to the list, thanks to Final Fantasy Potion soft drinks. Let's see, at last count the stores were stocking Final Fantasy 13.

No way to know if drinking a Final Fantasy Potion soft drink will restore your health, energy level - or make you invulnerable. Kids, don't try this at home! (via Japan Newbie)

2) Canned Coffee = Canned Laughter

Canned coffee has been a staple of those omnipresent Japanese drink vending machines since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Nothing wrong with the coffee itself, which is actually quite good. It's the wacky names (c/o ) the manufacturers insist on giving it that elevates Japanese canned coffee to immortality (one brand in particular - read on). There may just be a Top Ten Bizarre Japanese Canned Coffees list coming to this site one day soon. A few "can"-didates:

BM Coffee - Nothing beats a good BM to start the day!

BJ Coffee - I stand corrected.

Deepresso Coffee - Is this the opposite of Espresso, or a coffee designed to bring down Type A personalities?

Black Boss Coffee - Decaffeinated AND desegregated, for the equal opportunity executive suite.

GOD Coffee - What does one serve with GOD Coffee? Communion wafers?

1) Kidsbeer: the Popeye Cigarettes of children's drinks

We've saved the most bizarre drink for last... Kidsbeer. We kid you not: Kidsbeer. What can be said in defense of Kidsbeer, except maybe that it's alcohol-free? That would be like saying Hitler wasn't all bad because he liked dogs. Kidsbeer is so wrong on so many levels it makes my head spin, yet it is so popular in Japan that monthly shipments are approaching 100,000 bottles. As for the ad campaigns, nothing else will make you feel more like you've blundered into Superman's Bizarro world then seeing pre-teens - heck, pre-toddlers - joyfully guzzling their bottles of Kidsbeer.

A little background: Kidsbeer used to be a normal, average soda called Guarana until 2003, when restaurant owner Yuichi Asaba renamed the bubbly brew "Kidsbeer" and watched sales go through the roof. Normally, some sort of government watchdog would step in at this point and read Asaba the riot act, but nope. Encouraged, Asaba farmed out production to the Tomomasu company, who made it less sweet, more frothy - more beer-like, if truth be told - and introduced brown bottles with labels resembling those of early Japanese beers.

Still the government watchdog slept on (or maybe it's drunk and passed out), so naturally other beverage, soft drink and soda makers scrambled to get a piece of the near-beer action. Sangaria took one look at Kidsbeer's skyrocketing sales and decided to go one better: wine and sparkling wine for kids! Their product website is jaw-dropping in its audacity - and nicely done as well. Wanna be like mommy & daddy, kids? Drink Kidsbeer, the Little Prince of Beers!

And that wraps up our list of the Top Ten Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks, although we've saved up enough dishonorable mentions to form the better part of a follow-up list. Japan sure is a wonderful place, but it's far from home in more ways than just travel time.

Barkeep, a frosty Kidsbeer for my friend - in a jelly glass!

UPDATE: Here's 10 Even More Weird and Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks

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Jun 19, 2007
by Kaishin (not verified)

and Bilk?

Where is the Bilk???

Jun 19, 2007
by nate (not verified)

kids beer

Only america thinks beer is evil.

every other country thinks giving kids toy guns is much tougher to justify.

so long as beer is dirty and guns are for 5 year olds, the states will retain the highest murder rate.

Jun 19, 2007
by Tony Y (not verified)


I've actually HAD Calpis (in New York actually, they sell em in this Japanese grocery store). It's actually pretty good. Pocari Sweat too...mmmm sweat. Actually, Pocari is just a sports drink/Gatorade kinda thing, but I think it tastes better than both the name suggests and Gatorade itself. Go try them, I recommend it. :)

Jun 19, 2007
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

No sweat

Pocari Sweat isn't bad at all, neither is Calpis - we get both on occasion from our local Japanese mart. My son loves Calpis, especially in a six-pack of juice boxes. So for those 2, the drink itself isn't weird, it's just the naming. Japanese advertisers like to play fast & loose with English - in Spain, "Water Salad" would probably be called "Salada de Agua" or something and wouldn't make anyone's list.

As for Pocari Sweat, it does sound odd but not odd enough for a Top 10 list, just too much good competition 

Jun 19, 2007
by Bunny (not verified)

Wasabi and Curry flavored Ramune Drinks

I'm living in Japan for a year and at the supermarket yesterday we found wasabi flavored ramune (the pop with a marble sealing it) and curry flavored ramune... didn't dare try it.  Tried the ice cucumber tho, that stuff is wierd... the after-taste is artificial cucumber, wierd.

Jun 20, 2007
by Bart (not verified)


How about Malk?  Now with Vitamin R!

Jun 20, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

where is this coolpis?

I've lived in Korea for 5 years and never seen Coolpis.  Gunna go shopping for it now on my pisbreak.  I'm guessing its a refrigerate after opening kinda beverage.  Nothing worse than lukewarmpis.

Jun 21, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

coolpis Kimchi

I think the coolpis Kimchi is a photoshop.  Coolpis is a real juice  that is available in any supermarket.  However, there is no Kimchi flavour available in South Korea.  Unless the Japanese really really love Kimchi?

Jun 22, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

nice drink

that mother's milk sounds kinda cool. i wouldn't mind trying it...

Jun 22, 2007
by HidariMak (not verified)

Some US soft drinks aren't much better...

Jones Soda has a few candidates for any similar lists covering North American beverages.  Turkey and gravy soda, pumpkin pie soda, brussel sprouts soda, cranberry soda, and pumpkin pie soda are some of their "contributions" to the industry.  Jonessoda[dot]com in case you're doubting it.

Jun 23, 2007
by Drzzit (not verified)


wow, gotta have me one of those final fantasy drinks! haha

Jun 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Diet water actually makes

Diet water actually makes you visit the toilet more often and quicker than you normally would, so it sheds your pounds as you drink it. Quite famous in France, a brand known as Contrex that does axactly that. Tastes artificially smooth and non-water like... a bit strange. And it makes your bowels go all gurgly in seconds. Mmmmm...

Jun 25, 2007
by jennifer (not verified)

Ice Cucumber

It sounds awful ... but yet ...fresh and pulpy for those hot summer days?Tongue out Seriously, i am kind of curious what this tastes like. : )

Jun 26, 2007
by Peety (not verified)

*burp* That was good

*burp* That was good Wink

Jun 27, 2007
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

They're heeeere....

Just got back from shopping at my fave Chinese supermarket, the bright, clean T&T, and took a look at the beverage aisle... they stock Calpis AND Calpico (in regular, strawberry, peach and mango flaves), Pocari Sweat, Lamune (in regular and peach) and a scary canned Chinese Asparagas Juice. The Calpico was on sale... the Asparagas juice stayed on the shelf.

Jun 27, 2007
by Nick (not verified)

Good morning from Japan!

Good morning from Japan! There are a couple fakes in here, FYI. Once again, the "mother's milk" is not a real product, and I'm pretty doubtful on the kimchee drink, although I've only been to South Korea once. As for the Ice Cucumber, it's sadly real. I don't know if any of you ever did this, but if you take a bag of Jolly Ranchers, unwrap several different flavors, and let them sit in water for a while, it picks up some strange artificial fruit flavor. That's EXACTLY what the Pepsi Ice Cucumber tastes like (but carbonated). I really don't think anyone would describe it as "good", but it's not terrible, either. Just sweet with a really vague (non-cucumber) flavor.

Jun 28, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

I  still think it's Korean

I  still think it's Korean for the package had Korean printed on it or maybe it's just fake.

Jun 28, 2007
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

Coolpis IS Korean

Coolpis IS Korean, as it states in the article - but it's distributed in Japan and that's close enough for me. You'd better believe i was going to find some way to get "Coolpis" onto the list - if only to make Calpis look good by comparison :o)

Jun 30, 2007
by someone (not verified)


What the hell were they smoking when they came up with Kidsbeer?!?!

Jun 30, 2007
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

It could be worse...

It could be worse... once they down a few dozen pitchers of Kidsbeer and come up with an idea for KidSmokes!

Jul 1, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

kids beer is non alcholics

kids beer is non alcholics and it tatses good they sell it comic book conventions and comics book store here in miami

Jul 2, 2007
by BloodStyle (not verified)


ah well u know... Kidsmokes already exist... but in other name... remember de Chocolate cigarette don't you?

Jul 10, 2007
by Billy (not verified)

Japanese Food

One thing that is really mesmerizing and worthwhile in Japan is touring aisles at your local convenient store. On your right, you can find Ritz crackers, snicker bars, and just about everything that you can find in the States. On the left, you see things which you've never seen before : squid rings, fermented soybeans, raw fish, curry flavored icecream and so on. Such diversity makes dining in Japan much more interesting investigative than other places.

Jul 10, 2007
by dan catania (not verified)

root beer, maltz beer

Weird drinks indeed. All but that Kids Beer. In German-speaking countries and in South America a sweet beer wihtout alcoohol and with a light chocolate taste named Malz Bier (Maltina in Spanish) is very popuplar. As well as Root Beer in North America...

Jul 10, 2007
by Zoingy (not verified)


Cucumbers are fruits, anyway, so I guess is not too much different from other fruit flavored soft drinks. Also, I've tasted some of that's not too bad o_O

Jul 17, 2007
by Jenika (not verified)

Are you serious?

The Cucumber Pepsi is disgusting! It's like rancid cough syrup.

Jul 17, 2007
by Goodtaste (not verified)

Top ten weird and bizarre american drinks

rootbeer, dr. pepper berries & cream, bourbon, cream soda, moonshine, coca cola, 7-up, beer less than 55 alcohol, bumwine and ... please what will be #10?

Jul 17, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

People who get all bent out

People who get all bent out of shape should chill. There is nothing derogatory about this list, more like a mildly funny Asian beverage introduction. Big deal, he wasn't disrespectful just informative.

If you feel offended, go make hot steaming love to your hondas, that will make you feel better.

Jul 18, 2007
by wheatytemptation (not verified)

FAGS - kiddie smoke lollies in Australia

in Australia (us too?) they have 'kid smokes' except they used to be called 'FAGS' and you got them in a little packet. political correctness changed their name to 'FADS' now they just arn't fun anymore :P but i guess it's better in the long run.

Jul 28, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't get what's supposed to be wrong with kidsbeer

It's not alcoholic. It's just another way that children can imitate adults and play. Americans have root beer, Britain has ginger beer, we used to drink fizzy grape juice when our parents had wine. It's about feeling grown up while drinking something child-friendly. What's wrong?