Ramune - Ingenious Design in a Bottle of Flavoured Water

Ever seen one of these? It may look like an ordinary bottle of flavoured water, but it is not. Head over to the Japanese section of your supermarket and you might just spot one of these on the shelves. It is called a Ramune (just look for the word “ラムネ” if it’s labelled in Japanese). What makes it so special is the ingenious design of the bottle that is both fashionable AND functional. You don’t get these two elements together very often, do you?

What is this? What are you talking about?
A Ramune is a bottle of flavoured water with a unique and specific design which includes a tight waist at about ¾ of the way up the length of the bottle, and a glass marble which is initially affixed to a rubber ring at the mouth of the bottle. While it originally came in the form of a glass bottle, you can also find it in a 250mL PET plastic bottle form these days. In Japan, the Ramune is one of the symbols of summer, as the cool beverage is usually drunk during this period of blazing hot weather. The name “Ramune” was derived from the English word “lemonade”, which was also the original type of drink used for this bottle design, hence the association. Lemonade = summer, right?

What’s with the marble? Does it do anything?
You mean the purpose? For fun. It’s more fun to drink something that has a ‘fun’ element in it, don’t you agree? Rather than having a boring old drink, why not have a marble roll around in the bottle (but doesn’t fall out) while you drink. Plus, you can even remove the marble after you’re done drinking, and continue the fun by playing with it. 

But if you really want to get technical, here’s what the marble REALLY does. Since it is a carbonated drink, the marble is used to seal in the gas so that the drink stays fizzy till you drink it. Why not a bottle cap? Back in those days, there was no such thing as a plastic bottle for carbonated drinks, let alone a plastic bottle cap. Most carbonated drinks were packaged in glass bottles. Therefore, this little innovative design was a great way to seal in the carbonation. The pressure from the carbonation pushes the marble up into the opening of the bottle, and because of this pressure, the bottle stays sealed until someone pops it.

So, how do you drink this?

1. Remove the plastic seal.

2. Remove the ring between the opener and the top of the bottle.

3. Place the opener back on top.

4. Push down on the opener and hold for 5 seconds (to let the gas pressure out).

5. Drink and enjoy.

3.       4.   

You can also check out this website on how to open a Ramune (by Tombow Beverage Co. Ltd.): http://www.tombow-b.jp/english/products/ramune.html

Finally, the taste…
Don’t expect too much from the taste, as the Ramune usually contains flavoured water with simple flavours such as lemonade (and in this case, melon). Anyway, here’s what I think. As soon as I pushed down on the opener, fizzy bubbles appeared on the top half of the drink and something drops to the tight-waist of the bottle, that's the marble. The taste…nothing too fancy, although it DOES have an interesting taste of carbonated water and a mild melon flavour. I bought the melon-flavoured Ramune, but other flavours such as lemonade, strawberry, grape, etc. are also available.

Get a Ramune and try it for yourself. It's definitely worth a try.

Ps. See the two round grooves? You’re supposed to roll the marble between them. Why? So that the marble won’t roll down the bottle neck and block the opening of the bottle (which would make it impossible to get a sip). Genius!


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