What are Sakuma Drops?

What are Sakuma Drops?

Jun 01, 2023 Tags 

Japanese culture is known worldwide for its unique and delicious cuisine, from ramen to sushi to matcha. But, when it comes to sweets, one candy has held the hearts of many for generations, and that prestigious candy is Sakuma drops. Sakuma Drops are a renowned confectionery delight originating from Japan. This timeless candy has captured the hearts of sweet enthusiasts worldwide. 

This hard candy was created in the early 20th century by Sojiro Sakuma and has since become a staple in the Japanese confectionery world. Its history is rich and has been featured in popular media. The drops are tasty and a totem of Japanese history and culture. Let's dive into the fascinating world of Sakuma Drops and explore its origins, flavors, and enduring popularity.


History of Sakuma Drops


Vintage Sakuma Drops Box


Sakuma Drops have a captivating history that dates back to 1908, during the Meiji era in Japan. They were first created by a man named Sojiro Sakuma, who was inspired by hard candy that was imported from Britain. Sojiro was also motivated to export candy from Japan rather than importing them. 

The company was not without various challenges, in 1945, the factory making the candies was burned down due to a bombing raid and dissolved. But, a Japanese businessman by the name of Nobunosuke Yokokura, a businessman from Tama revived the company in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, in 1948. The company was split in two. The first original one produced candy by the name "Sakuma's drops" and was sold in a red tin, while the second company candy was named "Sakuma drops" in a green can.

As the years passed,it became widely recognised as a delightful confectionery treat loved by people of all ages. So much so that the factory couldnt keep up with demand so in 1969 when Niel Armstrong was visiting the moon, sakuma drops expanded to a mass production factory in Hachioji.


Why Are Sakuma Drops Being Discontinued?


Unfortunately many good things come to an end as the company SakumaSeika Co closed in January of 2023. This was because of the drop in sales of sakuma drops, production costs  and probably Covid because the company reported a loss of a whopping $1million in 2021. Another reason for the discontinuation is that Japan is home to many popular snacks nowadays like Hi-chew, Kit Kats, and other hard candies, so the competition for the candy market has definitely increased and it is hard for the old candy to remain relevant. 

Fortunately for fans, the second company that produces sakuma’s drops in green cans is still in business and would continue to make the yummy candies. However, the iconic red can will not be used anymore.


Sakuma Drops And Anime


Sakuma Drops in Gave of the Fireflies


One example of Sakuma Drops in popular culture is their appearance in the Studio Ghibli film, Hotaru no Haka or as it's commonly known in the West, "Grave of the Fireflies". The anime plot is situated around two orphan siblings, Seita and Setsuko, and their struggle during the second world war. In the movie, the candy was almost a main character because it represented hope. As the two siblings would take the candy, they slowly descended into hopelessness. When they ran out of sweets, seita used the iconic red can to serve his sister sweet tasting water and their lives took a turn for the worst without the sweets in it. 

To avoid spoiling the entire movie, we will stop there however, Sakuma Drops' appearance is symbolically linked to the war as a symbol of hope and comfort during a time of war and destruction. The film has become a classic in Japanese cinema and has helped to cement the legacy of Sakuma Drops. Overall, they represent more than just candy, but rather a symbol of comfort, nostalgia, and tradition.


What Makes Sakuma Drops Unique?


The candy was originally made with only a few simple ingredients, including sugar syrup and various fruit flavors. The traditional ingredients play a significant role in what makes Sakuma drops unique. Also, in a can of the candy, you don’t get just 1 flavor, you get a mix of several flavors.



ZenPop Snack Box


How To Enjoy Sakuma Drops


Sakuma Drops Candy


Sakuma Drops are a delightful treat that generations of Japanese people have enjoyed. If you want to experience this sweet taste of Japanese history and culture, there are a few ways to do  it.

Firstly, you can simply savor the candy on its own. The hard candies have a delicious, fruity flavor that will leave you wanting more. 
Another way to enjoy Sakuma Drops is to use them as a sweetener in your tea or coffee. Simply drop a few candies into your hot beverage and let them dissolve for a sweet and flavorful twist.

If you're creative and adventurous, you can also use Sakuma Drops in baking or desserts. Crush them up and sprinkle them over ice cream or use them as a topping for cakes and cupcakes. You could even try incorporating Sakuma Drops into your favorite cookie or muffin recipe for a unique and delicious flavor.




Sakuma drops are pieces of joy in candy form. Every Bite takes you on a trip of rich Japanese history. So when you find yourself in Japan or just happen to be in a Japanese store, make sure this tasty treat isn't left out of your cultural experience.

If you find yourself craving Japanese munchies, why don’t you order a ZenPop snack pack where you get loads of candies and snacks from Japan. Click here to order yours!

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