Ten Japanese soft drinks you won't find in the states...for good reason

First time visitors to Japan are often struck by how Western the country seems. All the very latest technological gadgets and a love of pop culture that borders on the crazy.

But scratch the surface, and you'll soon see that things are different in Japan -- vastly different. A different way of thinking, a different approach to art...and an often shocking twist on Western food.

If you've ever ordered an "American-style" breakfast in Japan (featuring slabs of white toast, wrong scrambled eggs and a refreshing, space-aged glass of Tang masquerading as fresh O.J.), you know what I mean.Take soft drinks, for example. They love their Coca-Cola in Japan, but their taste-buds demand something different. Steve Levenstein, who blogs at InventorSpot.com, often chronicles the wonderful strangeness that is Japan (he has a Japanese wife, so his interest is personal and loving), writes today about ten strange soft drinks you aren't likely to ever see on these shores.

I've been to Japan several times over the years, and I have my own Japanese sister-in-law. I hit the huge Japanese supermarket Marukai near where I live at least once a month. So I can dig a different, non-Western taste. Melon flavored drinks, even the strange, creamy, lemonade-ish Calpis I find refreshing. But some of the drinks on this list defy even my expanded taste buds.

Hawaiian Deep Sea Water -- Forget everything you've heard about not drinking the sea-water, no matter how desperate you get on that life-boat. The makers of this desalinated deep sea ocean water can't produce enough of this stuff to quench the thirst of the Japanese, who snap up 1.5 liter bottles for between $4 and $6 a pop.

Placenta Drink -- In case ingesting a human afterbirth doesn't entice you, the company has used pig fetus placenta instead, and has thoughtfully added a delicate peach flavor. Thanks guys!

Needs Cheese Drink -- Needs no explanation...other than perhaps to mention that this cheese drink comes in three flavors; plain, berry, and refreshing yuzu (which is sort of grapefruit-ish -- blended with cheese, this just has to be a tastebud explosion...)

Wine for children -- While I can see the appeal of liquoring up your kids on long road trips, I can also see the legal and moral problems. This Japanese beverage maker, however, takes a larger view. Too bad I can't give you details, as the website is all in Japanese. Have a drink and listen to the music, though. And have yourself a merry little trip of your own...

Bilk - Milk and Beer Drink
-- Let's just call this for what it is: A monstrous abomination with something to repulse everyone. Except for the consumers who buy this hybrid milk/beer product on Japan's Northernmost province of Hokkaido. Apparently the dairy farmers up there are bored and have a surplus of milk.

Fortunately, none of these products are likely to be featured in the aisles of your local WalMart. Besides, why grimace over Japan's popular eel soda when we have Schlitz and Red Bull driving the tourists to drink?
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