Konbini: your local ‘health’ store?

Two weeks ago I wrote about my decision to hang up my partying shoes and stop drinking for my health. As bizarre as this sounds, although mentally and indeed, physically, I mostly feel better, I have had this weird dizziness thing going on for the past three weeks.

The other night I headed out to a local matsuri [祭り] or festival and had two beers because I just felt like them.


Dizziness gone… WTF?! After speaking to a friend who’d also forgone alcohol for just over a week, I discovered that he too had been suffering from the same thing. I can’t explain what caused it or really even say with conviction that the beer helped, but we concluded that alcohol, in small amounts, is no problem and does not qualify as partying. Everything in moderation!

Anyway, that’s a long introduction and what I really wanted to say is that this week’s column is all about health products in konbini [コンビニ].

My verdict: some of them are good, some of them are bad and some of them I think are for people who believe in the placebo effect (i.e. they are complete BS).

In particular, I thought I’d focus on the zero calorie products, which are very popular with the ladies here. By ladies, I mean the Japanese ladies, as most Western women I’ve spoken to, don’t seem so worried about that kind of thing.

The first zero calorie thing that most people are familiar with are the jelly packs. These come in either small tubs (some of which contain chunks of stuff that remind me of specimens floating in formaldehyde) or easy, squeezy packs. They come in a multitude of flavours and surprisingly don’t taste too bad, just like unsweetened jelly really. The best thing about these is that they seem to convince your mind, or maybe it’s your stomach, that it’s satisfied and thus, you don’t feel hungry afterwards.


zero calorie jelly

The other day at 7-Eleven I discovered a kind of mochi [もち], or pounded, glutinous rice dumpling pack with a salty-sweet sauce.


I was kind of excited to test this one, but alas, I was bitterly disappointed. I needed to transfer the entire thing to an actual bowl because the container was just too small for a sticky food like mochi that you’re trying to cut using a plastic spoon with a sauce that’s spilling out all over the table. To be honest, there wasn’t much taste either, even with the sauce.


One product I was super excited to have found though, is the new Kirin Mets Plus + Lemon Squash 0kcal drink. It’s fizzy, sweet and will definitely satisfy not only your craving for a soft drink or soda-type thing, but also refresh you on these hot, summer days.

Mets Plus+ 0kcal Lemon Squash

The last product isn’t actually zero calorie, but it is classed as a type of ‘health’ product. It is famously marketed as a hangover cure. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. If this really worked, wouldn’t it be sold all over the world? Who knows. Possibly it can be classed as a placebo, but, I can’t really argue with the millions of sarariiman [サラリーマン] or salarymen, who chug them down before heading off to drink copious amount of alcohol for hours and hours with their coworkers. Oh and let me just stress, you MUST drink this BEFORE you begin drinking. Do NOT drink it the next morning. I will not be held liable for your technicolour spew.

ukon no chikara

There are a few different brands, but the most popular one is Ukon No Chikara [ウコンのカ]. It contains turmeric (ukon in Japanese), which is said to be essential in preventing hangovers. It’s an orange-coloured drink and has a fruity kind of taste. It’s not exactly pleasant, but not altogether bad, either. I have tested this on more than one occasion and found that I didn’t feel so bad the next day. I did have a whopping headache, but the queasy stomach thing was completely absent. That alone makes me believe in it. Think what you want, but don’t knock it until you try it, I always say.

I know some of you reading this will wonder why I didn’t review alcohol-free beer, but really, can you blame me? Yes, there are a few different brands out on the market, but why drink something that tastes like beer unless it IS beer? Case closed.

So that’s the low-down on a few of the health products from konbini. I’m not exactly sure that the hangover cure can be considered a health product, especially since the reason you’re drinking it is so you can poison your system with alcohol… but anyway… I won’t judge you. Much.

Talk to you all next week!

Jade Brischke

Jade first visited Hiroshima with a group of her students from Australia and after falling in love with the city, vowed that one day she would return to live and work. It seems dreams really do come true! When she's not writing she's out and about with her camera, walking and exploring the streets or some may say, wandering aimlessly. She, however, doesn't believe any wandering is aimless. Jade blogs regularly at jackcrispy.com.