Even though you can find Coca-Cola in every convenience store in Japan, for the most part the country isn’t all that into carbonated soft drinks. So if you’re selling a fizzy, non-alcoholic beverage, you need some kind of unique hook.
Pepsi has made a habit of periodically releasing unusual flavors such as chestnut or cucumber-flavored sodas, but we’ve also seen smaller, regional producers put out some creative concoctions such as cider that tastes like tomatoes, tea, or olives. Even still, beverage makers haven’t exhausted every possible taste, as right now in Yokohama and Osaka you can get your hands on cider made with silver vine, or Japanese catnip.
Yume Neko is an art gallery and gift shop filled with cat-themed accessories and knick-knacks. Inside the store, there’s so much feline imagery that it’s almost a surprise they don’t sell actual cats.
Yume Neko has even branched out into beverages with its new Nyanko Cider, which, unlike the Cat Wine we featured recently, is actually intended to be drunk by humans rather than felines.
Nyanko means “kitty cat,” and while there’s a picture of one on the label, that’s not how the drink got its name. Instead, the moniker is a reference to the one of the ingredients being actinidia polygama, or silver vine, extract.
Also known as cat powder, silver vine is a flowering plant that grows in the mountains of Japan and has properties similar to catnip. Someone at Yume Neko came up with the idea that, if cats go wild for the stuff, then just maybe the people who love the animals will too, and thus Nyanko Cider was born.
Having never consumed silver vine (our experience lies more in munching on dog food), we’ve got no clue what it tastes like. The writing on the bottle’s label also makes reference to “ginger flavor” though, so we’re guessing the overall effect is similar to ginger ale.
Still, we’re assuming that the silver vine gives Nyanko Cider its own distinct kick, even if it’s just the psychological effect of knowing what’s in the stuff. If you’re keen to try a bottle for yourself, it’s on sale now at the Osaka and Yokohama Yume Neko locations, where just 324 yen (US$3) will get you a refreshing drink and, just maybe, an insight into your cat’s deepest passions.
Yume Neko (Yokohama Motomachi branch) / 横浜元町ゆめ猫店
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Naka-ku, Yamashita-cho 124, SK Heim 101
Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Yumeiro Museum (Yumeneko Osaka branch) / ゆめいろミュージアム
Address: Osaka-fu, Fujiidera-shi, Kitaoka 1-8-46
Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m.