Japan’s Energy Drinks

You’ve seen all those little tiny bottles at the convenience stores. The advertisements usually show tired businessmen guzzling them and then heading back to work recharged. I’m talking about Japanese energy drinks. You see them everywhere!

power drink from Japan
Some people have tried them and spend the next few hours zipping around on a caffeine rampage. Others have choked them down only to get a slight sugar buzz and then feel more tired than before. They usually advertise that they have some kind of Chinese herbs that give your body natural energy, but what’s really in those energy drinks?

Which Ones Work And Which Ones Don’t?

Unless you can read Japanese, it’s pretty hard to check out the label. But, there are a few sure fire ways to tell the good ones that work from the bad ones that don’t.

First off, there is a huge variation in price. Go to any convenience store and check out the energy drink selection. They range from about 150 yen to 1,500 yen! What’s the difference?

I’ve been told be several people that the under-300 drinks don’t give you any boost at all. The 150 yen ones you see in the vending machines at the station are no better than a pet bottle of vitamin water. You have to at least pay 300 yen.
If you’ve gone a few days without a good night’s sleep and you really need to get some energy, the ones that cost 1,000 yen or more will get you where you need to go. I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on a tiny bottle of god-knows-what, but supposedly they work.

Another simple way to tell if you got a good one or not is the taste. If it tastes alright, it probably won’t work. If it tastes like dirt and grass and whatever else and makes your face pucker after that first sip, you’ve probably got a winner. That herbal stuff doesn’t taste so good!

What’s Inside?

Your standard Japanese energy drink has sugar, caffeine and maybe some odds and ends of vitamins and herbal stuff. For the most part, it’s sugar and caffeine, and you can expect the same comedown afterward. Some of these drinks contain small amounts of nicotine, so you can chug energy drinks for a cheap alternative to the patch.

Lots of these drinks have taurin. Taurin is supposedly a magical ingredient that gives you superhuman energy. Some of these drinks advertise in big letters that they contain as much as 1,000 milligrams of taurin. The truth behind taurin is that, in a medical study, it was discovered that mice who ingested taurin did not suffer from muscle fatigue as quickly as the mice who weren’t given taurin. That’s it, the magic behind taurin. I wouldn’t put much faith in that.

The Most Popular Energy Drinks

The one you see everywhere is Lipovatin. This is the one with the blue and white label that you sometimes see in the vending machines at the station. Some people swear by these, that they give them a much needed energy boost, but if you are a big coffee drinker, it won’t do much for you. It’s basically packed full of sugar and caffeine.

The other most popular energy drink is “Ukon no Chikara.” This is the little tan aluminum can with a picture of a ginseng root on it. This stuff is supposed to prevent hangovers. They say that, if you down one of these before your night of heavy drinking, you’ll wake up in the morning bright-eyed and bushy tailed. I haven’t tried it myself, but give it a test run next time you plan to drink and see if it works or not.

These energy drinks are everywhere, and you can easily get in the habit so swilling them when you need more energy. But, let’s face it, what we all really need is a better night’s sleep. Don’t become an energy drink junky!

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