An important aspect of Japan’s beverage industry are eiyō or nutritional drinks. Although kanpōyaku (Chinese medicines) have been used by the Japanese for centuries, the latter part of the 20th century led to the development and marketing of eiyō drinks, starting with Lipovitan D in 1962. This and other drinks are packaged in little brown bottles with colorful labels. The ingredients that make up the drinks range from well known ginseng to the more exotic shark fin.
Drinks labeled and marketed as eiyō zai must include the word iyakuhin colored in red, which means “pharmaceutical product” if it wants to proclaim it benefits a drinker’s health. Eiyō zai approved by the Kōseshū, the Ministry of Public Welfare, can be sold as such and sold in licensed pharmacies. Products not displaying the word iyakuhin in red, will display the word tansan inryō in blue, which indicates it’s a carbonated beverage or seryō inryōsui, which means soft drink.
Some of the more popular eiyō drinks include:
- Arinamin V
- Chocora BB
- Lipovitan D
- Yunker – a mini tonic; not great tasting.
- Samon – contains powdered Mongolian deer antlers.
- Oronamin C
- Real Gold – A Coca-Cola Japan product.