Japan likes its carbonated drinks with a kick, so here comes the Coca-Cola chu-hi.

While Coca-Cola is readily available in convenience stores and vending machines in Japan, it hasn’t really conquered the beverage market here in the same way it has in much of the West. A big part of that is due to the fact that, in general, Japanese consumers, compared to their counterparts in many other countries, aren’t nearly as into carbonated soft drinks.

Of course, Japan has no problem with carbonated alcoholic drinks, as it happily gulps down not only beer but chu-his, fizzy cocktails made by mixing soda water, shochu (a distilled alcohol that can be made from barley, sweet potatoes, rice, or buckwheat), and other flavors, such as fruit, green tea, or even sakura. So in its continuing adaptation to the local market, Coca-Cola Japan has announced that it will start selling canned Coca-Cola Chu-his.

In a lot of ways, it’s a smart idea. Chu-his (also called “sours”) are so popular that they’re sold in cans, regularly bought by customers looking for something sweeter (and also generally cheaper) than beer, while still delivering a similar 4-to-8-percent dose of alcohol. It’s not all that unusual for pubs in Japan to offer “coke-his” on their menus, either, which mix shochu with cola, either Coke or one of its competitors’ substitute products.

▼ The canned chu-hi section at my local grocery store

Likewise, even in the West Coca-Cola has long been used in cocktails. Still, it’s going to be a little startling to be able to buy official, from-the-factory alcoholic Coca-Cola, which might be why only Japan is going to be graced with the canned adult drinks. “This is [a] modest experiment for a specific slice of our market,” Coca-Cola Japan president Jorge Garduno said in regards to the new venture, which indicates that the Coca-Cola chu-hi probably won’t see release in the rest of the world.

Part of that might be due to Coca-Cola’s family-friendly image, which might be harder for the brand to maintain if it’s pedaling booze in a country that’s not so warmly accepting of alcohol as Japan is (Kirin and Suntory, which have had entire chi-hi lines in stores for many years now, have no problem selling non-alcoholic drinks in Japan). The Japan-only strategy might also be connected to chu-his, and shochu, being relatively unknown among many Western consumers.

Still, even a “modest experiment” can turn into something big if the reaction is positive enough, and with many foreign ex-pats and visitors to Japan citing chu-his as a highlight of their experiences with the local drinking culture, maybe the Coca-Cola chu-hi will find its way out of Japan eventually. For the time being, though, it’s one more thing to put on your Japanese convenience store shopping list when you visit.

Source: Goo News via Otakomu, Financial Times
Top image ©SoraNews24

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he wishes Kirin would bring back its orange canned sours.