Only on sale for a limited time, and in a very limited area.

Our reporter Mariko Ohanabatake has tried a lot of juices over the years, but in her opinion, the most delicious of them all is one that you can only buy at Acure vending machines.

Acure specialises in “ekinaka” (“in the station“) vending machines, and they can be found throughout the East Japan Railway (JR East) area. As well as specialising in machines, the company has a line of Acure-brand drinks as well, and in keeping with the railway travel concept, they often utilise special local produce from the JR East region.

That’s the case with Mariko’s favourite juice, which is only available at Acure machines and only for a limited time, leading it to become known as a “phantom” drink. The juice in question is filled with the flavour of peaches, and not only that — it only uses peaches of the Akatsuki variety from Fukushima Prefecture.

This limited-edition drink first debuted in the summer of 2019, and since then, it’s been reappearing every summer, much to Mariko’s delight. Fukushima is famous for peaches, and the Akatsuki variety is one of the region’s most popular varieties, due to its bright colour and exceptional flavour.

▼ While most juices might contain a portion of fruit juice, this bottle contains 100-percent peach juice, and only the Akatsuki variety.

Priced at 190 yen (US$1.33), this small bottle might seem pricey, but considering the esteemed fruit it contains — Akatsuki peaches are well-known for being presented to the emperor — it’s actually incredibly good value. In fact, Mariko can’t believe she can drink such a juice for just 190 yen, because if you were to buy something like this at a fancy restaurant or juice stand, it’d go for around 800 yen a cup.

▼ It’s not every day you get to drink straight peach juice.

Ever since she first tried this drink, cheaper peach concentrate drinks just can’t compare. This is like drinking a peach, and despite its thick juice, it’s incredibly refreshing and easy to drink, making it perfect for summer.

Peaches sell at supermarkets for around 400 yen each, so this is a much more affordable way to get a taste of the famous summer fruit. Plus, you don’t have to deal with pesky peels or sticky hands either.

▼ The colour, flavour, and sugar content aren’t adjusted, so what you’re getting is 100-percent Akatsuki peach juice.

By Mariko’s estimate, she drinks more than 10 of these bottles every summer, and every time she takes her first sip at the station platform while waiting for her train, she gets to enjoy the sensation of drinking a peach…without having to get her hands messy.

So next time you’re travelling on the rail network in and around Tokyo, be sure to keep an eye out for the Acure brand machines and the drinks hiding inside them. Chances are you might just stumble upon another phantom drink that’ll become your own new favourite, and if you’re around in winter, that drink might just be a can of hot ramen broth!

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