The answer to the question “What do you eat when you catch a cold?” is probably different depending on where you live in the world. For me, nursing a cold conjures up images of sitting in bed wrapped in blankets and sipping chicken noodle soup.

But we were curious to know which foods and other remedies are commonly consumed in Japan when someone gets sick, so we asked 11 of our colleagues over at the Japanese edition of RocketNews24 and our sister site Pouch to share what they eat when the sniffles start creeping up on them. Think you can guess how they answered? Some of their responses might surprise you!

Here are the responses of our Japanese reporters, arranged in no particular order.

1. Woman, 30s

Vitamin-fortified orange juice

Ice cream when I don’t have an appetite.

▼Ice cream when you have a cold!? We should have asked her which flavor she eats. Perhaps a non-traditional flavor, like this black sesame found in Japan?

8Wikipedia (Kwekwe)

2. Man, 30s

Ramen that’s full of garlic

Apple juice

▼Nothing like a piping-hot bowl of garlicky ramen to stave off a cold. Right??


3. Woman, 30s

Yomeishu (養命酒; an alcoholic beverage used for medicinal purposes), prepared in a 1:1 ratio with finely sliced ginger. I strongly recommend this.

Rice gruel containing egg and wild leek

▼A description of yomeishu from the drink’s official site


4. Man, 20s

Chicken soup. My girlfriend is German, and she made chicken soup for me when I caught a cold. It was super effective, and ever since then I make chicken soup whenever I get sick.

5. Woman, 30s


Pocari Sweat (a popular sports drink in Japan with, yes, an unfortunate name)

6. Man, 3os

Honeyed daikon (white radish). I make this whenever my throat hurts, not necessarily when I have a cold.

▼Luckily for our readers, we already have an article with an easy recipe to make honeyed daikon!


7. Woman, 40s

Throat drops–I often have a sore throat, so I always keep some around.

Pocari Sweat–to rehydrate. I feel like it’s good for my body.

Custard pudding–it’s sweet, soft, and tasty. I eat it when I’m not sick, too…

Vegetable and egg soup–hakusai (Chinese cabbage) and other vegetables, topped with beaten egg.

▼The soup looks something like this:

4Rakuten Recipe

8. Man, 30s

Okayu (rice porridge)

C1000 (vitamin lemon juice)

▼C1000 juice. Incidentally, there’s a chain of Dutch supermarkets called C1000.

5Amazon JP

9. Woman, 30s

Kakkonto (葛根湯; an anti-febrile infusion/traditional Chinese herbal drink made from a mixture of kudzu [arrowroot] powder, ginger, cinnamon, among other plants)

Honeyed water

▼Head over to your local Japanese drugstore for some kakkonto when you feel the onset of a cold.


10. Man, 30s

Akai Kitsune (a brand of cup noodles)

Yunker (a health tonic containing Chinese herbal ingredients and caffeine which is marketed to combat fatigue). I only buy the good stuff that costs over 2,000 yen (US $16.66).

Kitsune udon is a popular dish made with udon noodles and a slab of fried tofu. Kitsune means “fox” in Japanese; the dish gets its name because according to Japanese mythology, foxes supposedly love fried tofu.


11. Man, 30s

Pocari Sweat–I buy up a lot of these and go through them like mad. Pocari Sweat is sometimes compared to an intravenous drip in bottled form, since it has all the necessary components to combat dehydration in your body. In other words, it’s not an exaggeration to call it a “medicinal” drink as well, and I always gulp it down when sick. If I drink a lot of Pocari Sweat, get decent sleep, and sweat a bit, I get better really quickly.



Okayu (rice porridge)

As you can see, many of our reporters choose to eat okayu when they have a cold. It’s true that rice porridge is the classic “eat this when you catch a cold” food in Japan, much akin to chicken soup’s status in the west.

Okayu: Japan’s version of chicken soup

10Japan Centre

Other than that, sports drink Pocari Sweat, which is actually manufactured by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., proved to be quite popular in the responses as well. Its name may conjure up some unappetizing images in English speakers’ minds, but according to our Japanese reporters, it really is the best drink to rehydrate your body (and it actually tastes pretty good). You can buy it at any convenience store or vending machine, so why not give it a try if you ever come to Japan?

Pocari Sweat: has your opinion about this drink changed?


Everyone, what kinds of things do you eat and drink in your country when you’re at home sick with a cold? Let us know in the comments section below!

Featured image: Japan Centre