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What are the most popular non-acoholic beverages in Japan?

What are the most popular non-acoholic beverages in Japan?

Jul 15, 2022 Tags 

While wagashi are popular in the land of the rising sun, people often overlook the fact that Japan has a wide array of wonderful drinks. We all know about traditional Japanese sake, but non-alcoholic drinks are a must-taste, especially if you are new to the yummy edibles Japan has to offer. Knowing what to drink and where to start the delicious journey of relishing the drinks Japan has to offer is what this article is all about. 

Most of Japan's non-alcoholic drinks can be either tasted fresh or found at a local konbini (コンビニ) in a bottle and ready to drink, cold or hot for every season.

Keep reading as we unravel the top fifteen non-alcoholic drinks that should be tasted, especially for first-timers. If you're wondering what goes well with these drinks then you can check out our ZenPop snack pack deals. Here we go!



1. Japanese Green Tea


Japanese Green Tea


Green tea is infused in the culinary Japanese culture. It is also the most popular and the most sought after drink when taking a peek into Japanese culture. Can you really have the complete Japanese experience without green tea? Almost every meal and confectionery in Japan is washed down with green tea. The tea leaves are well brewed in hot water and served to drink. It has a lot of health benefits, for example, helps in weight loss, and reduces the risks of heart disease and also diabetes. You can consider the taste delicate and mildly grassy, sweet or bitter-sweet. This depends on individual preferences. Yes, you can add milk to green tea. 


2. Japanese Matcha Tea


Matcha Latte


Matcha (抹茶) is basically crushed green tea leaves. While green tea is the brewed leaves, matcha is more concentrated than green tea. It doesn’t look mild and clear like the green tea, it looks thicker and greener, and foamy. Matcha can be mixed in with Latte too. It could be sweeter or more bitter than green tea, it depends on the preference. Today, a lot of snacks in Japan have matcha as the preferential flavor. 


3. Japanese Mugicha (Barley Tea)


Japanese Mugicha


Mugicha (麦茶) is also known as Barley tea. It is a Japanese beverage made from roasted barleys being soaked in hot or cold water. It is very popular in Japanese homes, it has a pleasant and toasted bitter flavor. It can be relished hot, or refreshingly cold during summer. It also has the health benefit of helping to lower blood pressure, and improve the heart’s condition. Mugicha is caffeine free.


4. Ramune




Talk about a very popular carbonated drink in Japan: Ramune (ラムネ)! It might be due to the funny, very creative bottle, coupled with the delicious drink it contains. Now, there are a lot of flavors but the initial/original flavor is the lemon flavor because “Ramune” is the romanized version of “lemonade”. Now we have strawberry, peach, pineapple, orange, and of course, matcha, among other flavors. The bottle is made of glass with a codd neck, sealed with a marble. Ramune is also known as “marble soda”, the codd neck named after the inventor Hiram Codd, helps hold in the carbonation. It's pretty fun to drink. Read our dedicated Ramune article here.


5. Japanese Sakura Tea


Japanese Sakura Tea


It's the beginning of spring and the cherry blossoms are blooming. What do you do? Take cherry blossom tea! It is a traditional Japanese beverage where the blossoms are soaked with salt and plum vinegar, then dipped in hot water and sugar. The sakura tea is the perfect picture of sweet and delicate. It is usually served in beautiful ceremonies like weddings and important ceremonies.



6. Melon Soda


Melon Soda


Uniquely popular in Japan, melon soda is a fizzy beverage best served chilled. It is refreshingly delicious and has a fruity taste. Alongside melon soda is melon cream soda, which is when a scoop of ice cream,  usually vanilla, is added on top of the melon soda for a better experience. It's not that common in other countries but you should really try it out. 


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7. Amakaze



Amakaze (甘酒) is a delicious traditional Japanese drink made from fermented rice. It is usually creamy, and very sweet with a sour undertone. Depending on how it is made, some have compared the taste to that of yogurt; creamy, sweet and sour, while others have compared it to the feeling of eating chocolate ice cream. It is usually served with dessert to add to the yumminess. You should ready your buds for bursts of sweetness when taking this delight. 


8. Japanese Canned Coffee


Japanese Canned Coffee


You might be wondering why canned coffee (缶コーヒー) is popular in Japan. The real question is who doesn’t need a daily dose of caffeine before or after the hustle and bustle of our daily lives? Better yet, it comes in a can, which is most convenient to drink from as you move from place to place. And the cool part is, there are a lot of vending machines with the “hot” and “cold” options with different brands of deliciousness. You can get your preferred options of canned coffee on the go in Japan.  


9. Flavored Soy Milk Drinks 


Flavored Soy Milk


Flavored soy milk (tonyu, 豆乳) drinks are popular in Japan which is not at all surprising, the Japanese are known to love food and drinks made from soybeans. So, not tasting their flavored soy milk drinks is a big no, especially if you and your buddies are up for sweet explorations. There are varieties of flavored soy milk drinks you can enjoy from which are highly nutritious and lactose free. You can always trust Japan with weird and amazing flavors. Examples of the flavors you can help yourself to are matcha, plum, vanilla, chocolate, and many others. 


10. Japanese Genmaicha (Roasted Rice Tea)




Genmaicha tea (玄米茶) also known as “brown rice tea” is a Japanese beverage is the mixture of green tea and roasted brown rice. It is also a healthy drink that helps with relaxation and sleep. It also calms you from stress, and helps to lower blood pressure. Genmaicha is the perfect blend of sweet bitterness balanced with the nutty sweetness of the roasted rice, and the smell of the rice gives it an amazing aroma.


11. Calpis




Calpis (カルピス) also called Calpico, is an uncarbonated soft drink that is made from water, nonfat milk, and lactic acid. It's very popular among Japanese and has been around for over a 100 years. Calpis was first released in 1919. The flavor is quite original, and not everyone likes it. You may think of it as a diluted yogurt. You can not only get it in its normal version but also as a carbonated drink called Calpis Soda. Japanese drink Calpico even with alcohol in Izakaya (Japanese bars) called Calpis Sour or Calpis Chuhai. Here's another fun fact about Calpis: the name Calpis was constructed by combining cal from calcium and pis from Sanskrit sarpiṣ (/s̪əɽpiʂ/), meaning clarified butter.


12. Clear Soda


Japanese Clear Soda


Clear soda has become more and more popular in Japan over the recent years. It may even have attracted worldwide attention after the release of the famous clear version of Coca-Cola, but in reality, a lot of drinks are available in a clear form, even coffee.

The popularity of clear soda can be attributed to the Japanese work etiquette. In fact, in Japanese meetings, it's usually customs to only bring water, and no soda, coffee, or other colorful drinks. Now, if your drink is clear, and looks like water, what's to keep you from bringing it into a meeting? Just make sure to remove the label!


13. Japanese Energy Drinks


Japanese Energy Drinks


It's important to make the distinction between energy drinks, and vitamin drinks (more on those later). Drinks such as Tiovita or Lipovitan are the energy drinks of Japan. The bottles are usually tiny, and come in 50 to 100 ml sizes. That's one big difference to the more popular RedBull and Monster Energy drinks that are common in the West.

Japanese energy drinks are created to help with concentration, fight weakness and fatigue, boost strength and nourishment. You'll find a lot of students carrying small flasks in their bag and enjoy them during their studies or exams. Salarymen are also frequent consumers when battling with long overtime hours. Those energy drinks are frequently advertised on TV commercials, and the merits are highly praised. We're not able to confirm whether they actually provide any of the shown effects.


14. Japanese Vitamin Drinks


Japanese Vitamin Drinks


The most popular Vitamin drink in Japan is probably the C1000 drink. Vitamin drinks in Japan are especially popular when there's less sunlight, more viruses flying around, and the common cold is widespread. A lot of them are lemon or orange-flavored, and supercharged with vitamins. They won't protect you from sickness but will give your body a good boost of Vitamins. Whether you need vitamin C, D, E, or any other one, you'll find the drink you're looking for at a Konbini, supermarket, or drug store.


15. Japanese Yogurt Drinks


Japanese Yogurt Drink


You may know some yogurt-based drinks from your childhood. Popular ones may be Nestlé's Yop, but it's quite different from wat you find in Japan. Yogurt drinks (飲むヨグルト) in Japan are quite unique. It's refreshing, and made to be consumed on its own, not really paired with cereals. Remember, they are yogurt-based drinks: they are neither yogurt, nor milk.

The most common flavor is plain, but you will be able to find others such as strawberry, banana and more fruity options as well.


These are the most popular non-alcoholic drinks in Japan. You can never run out of options that are exclusively made in Japan. There are many more that were not described here, like the famous Japanese hangover cure: a turmeric-based drink, but also Kinako Mochi Drinks, Collagen Drinks, Jelly Drinks and more. It's fun exploring them, and we have created this list so that you know where to start from. Don't forget to order our snacks too! Enjoy! 


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This article was originally written by our freelance writer Umm-Kulthum Abdulkareem, and edited by us.