14 Japanese Sodas Ranked Worst To Best

The tiny island nation of Japan is nothing short of a foodie Eden for many a hungry resident and traveler alike, with incredible local dishes and cool spins on classic American fast food that can be either stomach-churning or crave-worthy (depending on where you fall on the ice burger spectrum). Even Japanese candy is next-level, according to its many adoring fans.

All told, we're confident in saying that you certainly won't starve on the streets of Tokyo. In fact, with minimal effort, you might even find a new favorite dish. Of course, you'll also want something ice cold and unique (at least to a tourist's palate) to wash it all down. Fortunately, Japan's culinary gifts don't stop at sweet or savory food, as they also extend to sodas. While some Japanese sodas come in decidedly conventional flavor profiles, others are more out of the box, and some may turn you away. Virtually all of them are worth a good sip test at least once, though you may want some guidance. With that in mind, these are some of the most popular Japanese sodas out there, ranked from worst to best.

14. Coca Cola Strawberry

Coca-Cola strawberry is a super sweet concept, from the pale pink label studded with strawberries to the rich cola fragranced with notes of summer berries. Unfortunately, as much as it sounds good, this soda fizzes out pretty hard in the real world. If you've ever drunk an ice-cold cola through a Twizzler straw, then you already have a pretty solid idea of what to expect from Coca-Cola strawberry. The flavor is on the nose, sure, but it's also highly artificial with a sweet candy aftertaste that leaves you longing for actual strawberries instead.

The Japan Times nailed it when they compared Coca-Cola strawberry's flavor to something medicinal. Unfortunately, while superior fruit infusions like Coca-Cola cherry capitalized on the balance of spicy and sweet cola and tart fruit, the flavors of Coca-Cola strawberry don't mesh well at all. It's also way too sweet, with a strawberry aftertaste that's more disconcerting than yummy. Don't take our word for it, though. If you simply must try it out for yourself, Coca-Cola strawberry is now available at select locations in the United States (via Best Products).

13. Shizuoka Green Tea Soda

Although the combination of green tea and carbonated soda might seem a little odd, the result of such a match is pretty palatable, with an understated green tea flavor and a straight shot of tartness. According to Sora News 24, this craveable carbonated concoction reads slightly more cider than soda, with just a touch of traditional green tea to keep things interesting. Although the soda starts bright and bubbly, you might notice a lingering aftertaste, however. The unfortunate effect renders the whole product a bit bitter.

What Shizuoka green tea soda lacks in flavor, it makes up for in originality. Unlike some other soda varietals, like eel-flavored drinks (via Sora News 24), this soda is relatively approachable. Redditors argue that it's emblematic of Japan in what many deems to be a cute and quirky way. So while you may want get your hands on some Shizuoka green tea soda for fun, keep your eyes peeled for other, tastier Japanese offerings.

12. Blueberry Ramune

Blueberry Ramune is another interesting entry in the Japanese soda lineup, featuring Ramune's clever marble-topped bottle, a pleasant amount of fizz, and a rich, jammy blueberry flavor (via Tasty America). A first blush, blueberry might seem like an unconventional and even tricky ingredient to incorporate into a soda, but the formula really does work. The tartness of the blueberries and sugary carbonated soda play off each other beautifully, while the marble keeps things tight and carbonated the whole time.

One slight downside is that blueberry Ramune can finish with a bit of an artificial tinge, meaning the bright, summery flavor of blueberries dissolves into a slightly off taste at the end. It's noticeable but, for many, it's not a deal-breaker and doesn't take away too much from the overall experience. Blueberry Ramune is still one of Reddit's favorite flavors, after all. While it's not perfection in a bottle, it's not a miss either and blueberry fans will likely walk away satisfied.

11. Cheerio Original Sodas

Bright, jammy, and fruity, Cheerio sodas have delighted Japanese taste buds since the swinging '60s. With slightly less carbonation than many other soda brands and rich, jewel-toned colors, Cheerio may taste like a mix between fruit punch and traditional soda. This unique fusion means that it's both thirst-quenching and ultra-flavorful. However, that sugar overload can also clog up the rich taste. If there's any criticism of Cheerio sodas, it's that they're a little one-note, like a juice box that you mixed with some seltzer for a less than glorious result.

According to Excite, Cheerio sodas are deeply nostalgic but still kind of pedestrian, like a less-sweet Fanta. Still, they're a good bet if you want to slurp on a thirst-quenching soda on a hot day and don't mind a bit of a sugar rush. Plus, Cheerio's bottles are cute and classic, with a beveled body and an old-school pop top. It's not the top Japanese soda on the market, but it still delivers nicely.

10. Fanta Premier Lemon

With a name that has the word "premier" built right into it, you may have already assumed that you're getting something chic and different, and Fanta Premier Lemon doesn't disappoint. This grown-up citrus beverage is sophisticated and bold while still being moderately flavored enough to appeal to people who just want a really good citrus soda. According to Gigazine, Fanta Premier Lemon's goal is to tap into that powerful childhood nostalgia while still appealing to adult sensibilities. By all accounts, it's succeeded, with a nice balance of tart and sweetness with no cloying sugar at the end.

Fanta Premier Lemon also has another flavor layer you don't usually find in sodas: bitterness. It's not overbearing, nor is it the first thing you'll taste, but the minute bitter note reminds you that you're not drinking something made for kids. Instead, Fanta Premier Lemon is fully grown. It's up to you to decide if that's a plus or minus.

9. C.C. Lemon

Suntory's C.C. Lemon is, true to its parent company's name, a sunny-colored, lemony snack with moderate carbonation and a huge hit of vitamin C. According to Suntory, C.C. Lemon debuted on the Japanese beverage scene in 1994 and was marketed heavily on its taste and the addition of vitamins. As a "healthy soda," C.C. Lemon excels, delivering big on vitamin C, which may or may not really boost your immune system, as per Harvard Medical School. However, this soda remains a decidedly sweet, delicious beverage.

C.C. Lemon is tart, fizzy, and not too sweet. Each sip is tangy and bright, with loads of lemon flavor and a nice bite of tartness and carbonation. Although C.C. Lemon touts itself as a hybrid snack and health beverage, the vitamin C boost is just icing on the cake. Drink C.C. Lemon if you want a full-blast lemon soda without competing flavors that won't overwhelm you with sweetness, and enjoy the considerable dose of vitamin C as a fun feature of this already enticing drink.

8. Coca-Cola Plus

Coca-Cola Plus is the mega-brand's attempt to put a healthy spin on cola with gut-friendly fiber and zero sugar. While health-food sodas might seem a little odd to Western sensibilities, Japan is no stranger to these types of fusions. For example, C.C. Lemon, a wildly successful soda, has plenty of vitamin C that the company touts as beneficial to one's immune system. According to TODAY, Coca-Cola Plus has dextrin, a compound that can help you stay regular, digestively speaking. Although Coca-Cola Plus isn't soda's answer to prune juice, it's still reasonably good for you as far as carbonated beverages go.

Coca-Cola issued a statement that lauds Coca-Cola Plus' supposed fat-zapping qualities, among other health-related boons. According to Coca-Cola, the plus version of their product has no calories or sugar and pairs perfectly with your calorie-conscious, healthy salad. Taste-wise, it's a solid product with conventional Coca-Cola flavoring, but the additional goodies may push it ahead of the pack or make you raise a skeptical eyebrow.

7. Mitsuya Cider

It's understandable if you first assume that Mitsuya Cider is alcoholic. After all, it's the brainchild of beverage giant Asahi, best known for its line of often rice-based beers. Yet, this tasty soda doesn't have a drop of booze. Instead, it tastes like a glorious hybrid of lemon-lime soda and ginger ale and is easily one of the most refreshing drinks you chug down in all of Japan.

According to Yabai, Mitsuya Cider is one of the most popular drinks in the country, with plenty of carbonation and serious fizz that will take the edge off your thirst in no time. Like most sodas, it contains many of the typical Japanese soda ingredients and flavorings, but also comes with a little punch of something extra. In addition, Yabai notes that there's vitamin C in some Mitsuya Cider varieties, a nice nod to Japan's health-conscious society, and something that might help you feel better after you've had one or three cans of the more adult beverages produced by Asahi.

6. Fanta Melon Soda

Fanta melon soda is a Japanese fan favorite that's super difficult to find in the United States (via Reddit) but is pretty ubiquitous in the Land of the Rising Sun. As Yabai notes, that's because melon-flavored products are exceptionally popular in Japan, where you can even find melon bread and sweets featuring the mellow fruit. Fanta melon soda is in a revered league of its own, with a history that spans more than three decades. It's even spawned a cottage industry of similarly-flavored melon soda-based treats (via Yabai).

According to Popsugar, melon ice cream floats are all the rage in Japan, created as an inspired combo of Fanta melon soda and ice cream. While Fanta melon soda is a staple drink in Japan, it's also appealing to Western tastes. Fanta melon is a combination of tried-and-true sugary carbonated flavor and a fruity element, making it taste both familiar and unexpected to Western palates. It's nothing short of Fanta-astic, though picky drinkers may need some time to acclimate to the melon flavor.

5. Iyoshi Cola

According to Iyoshi Cola, this artisanal soda contains a bewitching element it deems "Craft Cola Magical Syrup," making the resulting drink a fabulous ice-cold sip or a mixer in your next cocktail. Whether Iyoshi Cola gets its enchanted taste from magical syrup or simply an excellent manufacturing process and good quality ingredients is up for interpretation. According to Arigato Japan, the ingredients for this plant-based soda were hand-selected to give it robust primary, middle, and end notes. You'll get a lot of citrus and spice in Iyoshi Cola, plus the refreshing zing of freshly carbonated soda water.

Bon Appétit Vancouver notes that kola nuts are the basis for "Craft Cola Magical Syrup," but as far as we can tell, the other ingredients remain a delicious mystery. Iyoshi Cola is a multi-faceted, gourmet soda experience that's well worth sipping and savoring, so long as you're lucky enough to come across a signature bag.

4. Original Lemon Lime Ramune

Although Ramune comes in a myriad of different flavors these days, its original lemon lime soda still remains one of the best this company has to offer. Although Ramune is nearly universally-loved in Japan, the company is actually British, hopscotching to the island country through various trading routes (via TokyoTreat). According to Ramune, parent company Tombow Beverage has been producing the product for over 100 years, and the long-since tested-and-approved formula is still going strong.

Ramune comes in a funky glass bottle affixed with a marble-topped cap to maintain freshness. Once nicknamed "marble soda" (via TokyoTreat), Ramune's innovative packaging lends charm, but it's the contents that really shine. With a bright, zesty lemon-lime flavor and modest carbonation, Ramune is like a better version of mass-produced lemon or lime Western sodas. It's flavor-forward and not overly sweet either, so the citrusy flavor isn't buried in a one-note saccharine soda. This is lemon-lime soda, seriously elevated.

3. Pepsi Raw

Pepsi Raw, or Pepsi Nama, as it's known in Japan (via Sora News 24), has all of the conventional Pepsi cola spices and flavors with one seriously cool twist: it's not heated during manufacturing. This chilly treatment lends a different, arguably fresher flavor to Pepsi Raw. What's so interesting and intoxicating about this particular Pepsi is that you can taste all of the usual flavors, just in a markedly different form. Of course, the trademark sugariness, spice, and bite are still there, but it's all been amplified and had nearly all artificiality stripped away.

Just Drinks notes that all this tinkering with technique has a specific aim: to make the end-product as refreshing and tasty as possible. With both zero-sugar and traditional versions, Pepsi Raw is a good call for people who want a more artisanal spin on their frosty glass of soda. While the taste difference is objectively minor, since all of the spices are still there, the difference is undoubtedly major-league.

2. Cheerio Melon Cream Soda

Cheerio makes plenty of bright, sentimental sodas that will harken back to your childhood, but Cheerio melon cream soda isn't one of them. It's actually better than tasting your formative years in a bottle. It's a satiny medley of fine cream soda and rich melon that's lightyears more nuanced than anything you've had before. There are plenty of qualities that make Cheerio melon cream soda shine, from its medium carbonation to the delicate interplay of melon and cream waiting inside the bottle. Perhaps the best thing about this Japanese soda is how expertly these two flavors weave together, giving you the mouthfeel of a milkshake with the gleeful carbonation of a great soda.

According to Entabe, melon cream soda has its fair share of admirers in Japan, but Cheerio's version is next-level, with light hits of acid and luxurious sweet cream in each sip. Plus, can anyone get over how cute the penguin packaging is?

1. Pineapple Ramune

Lauded on Reddit as nothing less than "ascension in a bottle," pineapple Ramune is a sweet, tart, tropical treat with a sunny yellow hue cutely packaged in Ramune's signature marble-topped bottle. Like original Ramune, this pineapple-flavored gem has just the right amount of carbonation and is best enjoyed ice cold and straight from the bottle.

But why should a pineapple flavored soda dominate all of its Japanese soda competition? While original lemon lime Ramune is an exemplary version of a citrus soda, pineapple-flavored Ramune brings something truly new and exciting to Western palates. Pineapple has a tart zing to it, just like citrus, but it's a bit mellower on the backend and sweetly reminiscent of the tropics. As such, the flavor is on-point. And though it's kind of traditional, this soda comes with a slight flavor twist that elevates it above simple sweetness, putting pineapple Ramune in the coveted top spot.