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 engrish.com ) 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