Ramune, a summer icon in Japan

Japan’s Ramune Marble Soda☆



Written by: リナ(rina)

● Ramune vs. Japanese Cider

Summer is here! When it’s hot and muggy like this, I could use a cold bottle of refreshing Ramune.
It’s probably no exaggeration to say that everyone in Japan loves this Japanese soda that has been a highlight of Japanese summer for a long time.

But what is Ramune?? Let’s begin with a little history.
Alghough Ramune is known to the world as a Japanese soda, it didn’t actually originate in Japan. Turns out Ramune was brought to Japan from England as “carbonated lemonade” when the Perry Expedition arrived in Yokohama with four big black U.S. Navy warships in 1853. Ramune bottles at that time were sealed with a cork instead of a marble.

In 1865, Japan’s first lemonade was produced and sold as “lemon-sui” (literally “lemon water”). But somehow the name “lemon-sui” did not settle among the consumers; instead, the word “lemonade” did, except the English word was pronounced “ramune” in Japanese, a language in which some phonics in English like L do not exist. (Neither does R, technically speaking, but the らりるれろ(ra ri ru re ro) sounds in Japanese are expressed with “r” when written with the Roman letters.)
Who could have guessed Ramune means lemonade?! I certainly didn’t.

Now, if you’ve been to Japan, you might have wondered—like many others including myself—about the difference between Ramune and Japanese Cider (“cider” in Japan refers to non-alcoholic sweetened carbonated soft drinks much like Ramune). Let me help you solve the mystery.
After Ramune penetrated the Japanese market, in 1887, heavy glass bottles with a marble were imported from England and domestic manufacturing of the iconic Ramune bottles began. Then, several years later in 1892, crown caps were invented in the US. While crown caps were not imported to Japan until 1900, only a few years after the arrival of crown caps, in 1904, a new soft drink using the crown cap bottles joined the Japanese market. It was called “Cider”.
From that time in Japan, soda with a crown cap became known as “Cider”, while soda with a marble cap became known as Ramune.
Yep, you got it. the difference between Japanese Cider and Ramune is… the cap!
Even today, Ramune comes in a bottle with a marble, and other sodas–with crown caps–are categorized as “cider” in Japan.

Another little trivia for you today: These bottles with marbles can be found only in two countries around the world today—Japan and India.

Ramune came all the way from England and became a national drink of Japan beloved by children and adults alike. And today, it has become a popular drink around the world with its unique bottle with a marble♪

● A Wide Range of Ramune Flavors

A number of companies manufacture Ramune, but one manufacturer in Osaka has the largest share in Ramune production in the world. At Hata Kosen, based in Osaka’s Miyakojima, about 550,000 bottles of Ramune are produced daily and exported to more than 45 countries! In addition to its signature product Ramune, Hata Kosen manufactures a variety of products including Chanmery (non-alcoholic carbonated party drinks) and Kid’s (non-alcholic) Bubbly Beer, both of which can be found on shelves at local grocery stores.

Let’s take a look at Hata Kosen’s Ramune, which comes in many, many—some unexpectedly unique—flavors♪

Ramune (in bottle)

This is the original Ramune flavor. If you’re not sure which flavor to go with, drink this one first.

Hata Kosen's Ramune

Strawberry, Melon, Pineapple, Blueberry Flavored Ramune (in bottle)

These colorful Ramune are cute and come in various fruit flavors.

Hata Kosen's Fruit Flavored Ramune

Matcha Ramune (in bottle)

Popular among Japanese and non-Japanese alike, this green tea flavored Ramune is made with Matcha green tea from Uji, Kyoto, an area famous for its Matcha production. I bet the bubbly Matcha is sumptuous!

Hata Kosen's Matcha Ramune

Takoyaki Flavored Ramune (in PET plastic bottle)

You read it right. This Ramune has the flavor of Osaka’s favorite snack, Takoyaki!! Only in Osaka you can expect to find such creation. It even says “with sauce”… I’d have to give it a try sometime!

Hata Kosen’s Takoyaki Flavored Ramune

Kimchi Flavored Ramune (in PET plastic bottle)

Yep, Kimchi, the spicy Korean pickles! The bright red color is only appropriate for this SPICY Ramune.

Hata Kosen’s Kimchi Flavored Ramune

Ramune JAPAN (in bottle)

Perfect for souvenirs, these Ramune bottles have Japan’s icons—like Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, and sushi—on their labels.

Hata Kosen's Ramune JAPAN

Ramune with Sakura Design (in bottle)

This Ramune has a special labeling with a beautiful Sakura cherry blossom design.

Hata Kosen's Ramune with Sakura Design

● Ramune How-to’s

The best part of drinking Ramune—besides the drink itself—is the moment you open the bottle. It defines the Ramune experience IMO.
For those who have not yet had Ramune or who find the opening of the bottle a little tricky, let me show you how to open the bottle, how to drink it…and how to get the marble out of the bottle!

※I’m using Hata Kosen’s screw type Ramune bottle here. There are other types of Ramune bottles that work differently. Check Hata Kosen’s website for more details on how to open different types of Ramune bottles.

【How to Open & Drink Ramune】
① Peel the seal off the cap at the top of the Ramune bottle.

② Get the plunger out of the bottle cap and separate the ring.

③ Place the plunger, with the flat side facing up, on top of the Ramune bottle.

④ Using your palm, press down on the plunger forcefully until the marble drops. Keep the plunger firmly pressed down for 5 to 6 seconds to allow the carbonic acid gas to settle.
※Having a small towel or napkin ready helps in case the soda shoots out.

⑤ Remove the plunger from the bottle and enjoy the Ramune!
Drink it directly out of the bottle or pour in a glass, whichever pleases you◎

★How to Drink Ramune Directly Out of the Bottle
(aka How to Get the Marble Out of Your Way)
You’d have experienced this if you’ve had Ramune but sometimes, when drinking Ramune out of the bottle, the marble rolls down to the mouth of the bottle and blocks the soda from flowing out. This can be an annoyance especially when you’re craving that refreshing sensation in your mouth.
Lo and behold! There’s a way to avoid the predicament!
Look closely at the Ramune bottle and you shall find two little round dents that are strategically placed between the cap and the neck. These dents are your savior–they are designed to hold the marble in place when the bottle is tipped.
Simply hold the bottle with the dents facing down, and the marble will get caught between the dents instead of rolling down to the mouth and blocking the soda from flowing out.
(This is genius. I can now drink Ramune frustration free!)

Check out the video on opening the Ramune bottle here.

【How to Get the Marble Out】
① When you are finished drinking the soda, turn the cap clockwise and it simply screws off.
Indeed, it was easier than I thought!

② All you have to do then is to get the marble out of the bottle.
My marble was super clear and pretty✨I like looking through the marble because everything looks upside down. Try it and I bet you’ll like it, too.

【Special Notes】
※You can get the marble out only from the bottles with screw caps. Do not try to forcefully remove the cap from the bottles if the cap is built into the bottle. You could hurt yourself (or others).
※Cap types are distinguished by color in Hata Kosen’s Ramune products. Bottles with a pink plunger have screw caps while bottles with a clear plunger have caps built into the bottles.

● Refreshing Souvenir♪

It’d been a while since I had Ramune. The bubbly sensation in my mouth was nice and cool and I still love the excitement of opening the bottle and hearing that clinking sound when the marble hits the bottle♪ It’s a summer tradition I cherish and would like to keep in the years to come.
Now that I’ve learned about the wide range of Ramune flavors, I want to try them all and compare the different flavors. The first one I’m going to try is definitely the Takoyaki flavor☆

When you visit Japan in summer, you will find Ramune at grocery stores and other shops. Make sure to get one and have your Ramune experience here. Or…maybe you can find Ramune in your country!?
Wherever you are, have fun with the marble and enjoy the Japanese Ramune marble soda this summer♪