Cokes of the world

I LOVE COCA-COLA. There is just something amazing about that fizziness and sweetness combined into one drink. The lack of a medicinal aftertaste is definitely a plus too. In fact, I was drinking Coke as I was typing this article. That is how much I absolutely love Coke!

While the classic Coca-Cola is great, there are a lot of other interesting flavors of Coca-Cola out there. Some flavors sound promising while others just sound downright weird. Apparently, there are also several flavors that are exclusive to some countries only. In this article, I have searched the internet far and wide to piece together six unique flavors of Coke from all over the world that any Coke lover should try if they can.

  1. Vanilla Coca-cola

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Vanilla Coke is a special flavor of Coke, not because of its flavor, but because of its history. It was first released in North America in 2002 but was pulled from shelves in 2005. In 2007, it was reintroduced to the North American Market and has thankfully not been discontinued since. It is said to taste like cream soda, a very dark cream soda. Its reviews online are mixed. But since it is still being sold today despite its initial discontinuation, I think that it is worth a try.

 

2. Coca-Cola California Raspberry

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As its name hints, this Coke is an American-exclusive flavor. It was released this year in tandem with Coca-Cola Georgia Peach as a part of a special line of Coke that traces back to its “artisanal roots”. Raspberries may not be commonly associated with California, but someone at the Coca-Cola company thought that it would be a smashing name anyway. Despite its strange moniker, I am willing to take a chance with this flavor. After all, the combination sounds a lot better than Green Tea Coke (yes, they did create such a flavor once).

3. Coca-Cola Blak and Coca-Cola Coffee

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Coca-Cola Blak was initially introduced in France in 2006 before it was sold in the United States and Canada in the same year. It was a mid-calorie drink that combined Coke and coffee. It was sold in hopes that the Coca-Cola company would be able to tap into the premium coffee markets. However, it was discontinued in 2008 because of a lack of financial success.

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Strangely enough, the company did not give up on their efforts to combine Coke and coffee. In 2017, they released “Coca-Cola Coffee” in Japan. It supposedly has 50% more caffeine and 50% less sugar. Sadly, it was available only as a vending machine drink. For the avid Coke lover who wants an even higher sugar high, this might be the drink for you.

4. Peach Coca-Cola

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This is limited flavor of Coke was also released in Japan on January 22, 2018. While the date may seem strange, research has shown that peach flavored drinks rise in popularity in Japan from January to March. This is because of a few reasons. First, the date is close to the day of the Momo no Sekku, which translates to “Festival of the Peaches” in English. Second, peaches are an extremely popular fruit in Japan, as they are believed to have the power to chase away evil. Given these two reasons, it seems somewhat reasonable for this flavor to have been released on that date.

I actually managed to try this flavor of Coke. While my friends did enjoy it, I did not find it to be as great as they told me it would be. In my opinion, it tasted too much like a drink from Fanta and not Coca-Cola. Despite this, I believe that it is worth a try, especially if you find a store that still carries it. (For my dear readers who are living in Sendai, the Co-op store located near Tohoku University’s Faculty of Agriculture on Aobayama Campus still sells it.)

5. Coca-Cola Clear

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There was clear coffee. There was clear milk tea. And now, we have clear Coke. As much as it looks like water, it is really Coke. In fact, like many other clear drinks, Coca-Cola Clear was originally released in Japan on June 11, 2018.  Unlike the other flavors on this list, this version has zero calories. It also has a slight hint of lemon mixed into it. This drink seems to be created with the clear drink trend in mind, even the wrapping of the bottle is clear, as if it wants to emphasize its “clearness”.

I tried it as soon as I could get my hands on one, and I was sorely disappointed. The “zero calories” label was really pronounced in its taste, as it was not as sweet as the Classic Coke was. It also had this strange aftertaste, similar to the one I get when I drink Coke Zero. For me, Coca-Cola Clear just tastes like a watered-down Sprite. Still, Coke lovers in Japan should give it a try. After all, being able to say that you have tried a Clear Coke should be a nice bragging right.

6. Coca-Cola Ginger

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Sadly, the last flavor on this list can only be found in the land Down Under, Australia, and its neighbor, New Zealand. Released in late 2016, it is said to taste like Coke that is mixed with ginger beer. According to the Coca-Cola company, ginger flavored drinks have been growing in popularity in Australia lately. So, Coca-Cola Ginger was released just in time for the Australian summer season. However, its unique flavor combination has left many Coke fans divided.

7. Phillipine Coke

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While this is not a special flavor of Coke, I thought that it would be nice to highlight my country’s version of my favorite drink. Philippine Coke is much sweeter than Japanese Coke because the aftertaste stays for a much longer time. However, the interesting part of my country’s Coke is not its taste, but its can. If you look closely enough at the back of a Philippine Coke can, you may notice something special…

It says, “Produced by the happy workers a Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines, Inc.”. Isn’t that a nice surprise?

 

References :

  1. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/world-first-launch-of-coca-cola-ginger-set-to-flavour-your-summe
  2. https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/news/coca-cola-clear-hits-stores-in-japan-today-061118
  3. http://designtaxi.com/news/397780/Peach-Coca-Cola-Is-Arriving-To-Ensure-Your-Year-Starts-Off-On-A-Sweet-Note/
  4. https://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/09/14/coca-cola-coffee-japan/
  5. https://www.flickr.com/photos/hyku/3159647121
  6. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vanilla_Coke_Wiki.jpg
  7. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Coca-cola-California-Raspberry-12oz-4pk/555250712

As reported by Shenelle Lim. Shenelle is a first year student of Tohoku University from the Phillipines.

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Discovering the real Japan

“Learning from the past to give to the future” is the image with which “BOUNDLESS” pursuits not only the revitalization of Japan but also the creation of a sustainable world bound strongly to its culture and traditions. This ambitious project goes by the name of “Sosei Partners” and it is ready to welcome participants from all over the world, on a trip to real Japan; a place that is often blurred by its stereotypical image, and whose real treasures lie on its ancestral folklore.

Dennis Chia, the founder of “BOUNDLESS”, has managed to design a portfolio of workshops and activities that teach foreigners the local traditions, and simultaneously bring them closer to the community that has subsisted for generations thanks to them. Furthermore, this project also brings out to the public the innovative new plans that are reshaping the future of some of the rural areas of Japan. Particularly those taking place in Ishinomaki, a city that is bouncing back from the devastating tsunami of 2011, by using the creativity of its citizens as foci of success.

 

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During a walking tour of Ishinomaki city

 

One of the workshops, “Ishinomaki Learning Program”, focuses on promoting the customs of this coastal city, located in the northeast part of Japan. The trip starts by teaching the visitors how the 3.11 disaster affected the life of the locals, with real testimonies, anecdotes, and with a short hike to a famous hill where the scenic view tells an ineffable story.

The tour continues to the multi-purpose café “Irori”, a space that has become a trendy spot amongst young and veterans. This former garage has a conspicuous chimeric floor that blends with the cozy rustic appearance of the venue, and is where visitors and locals sit as family to enjoy international dishes, voluntarily prepared by the participants of the workshops.  Irori usually hosts the meetings of “Ishinomaki 2.0”, a group created shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake and intends to transform Ishinomaki into an inspiring city, even beyond its former self.

 

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At Ishinomaki Laboratory

 

A couple of kilometers away from the center of the city, “Ishinomaki Lab” gives every visitor a solid proof that innovation transcends any barrier, what started as a solution for a local problem has transcended into a multinational business with shipping to Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany and the U.S. This is the world’s first DIY furniture label, and its roots are embedded in the history of Ishinomaki.

Even further from city, “Fisherman Japan” takes on the task of teaching not only foreigners but also the new generations of locals that the fishing industry is not the “dirty, dangerous, and demanding” business it is commonly portrayed as. Their mission is to include fishermen into the modern society and promote a sustainable industry with fresh seafood products as their banner.

These are merely a glance of all the activities that form the “Ishinomaki Learning Program”. Moreover, this workshop is just one of the options that “Sosei partners” has to offer you. So if you want to experience the real Japan, be in contact with the ancestral traditions of the wonderful melting pot of customs that is this country, and have a first-hand insight of these rural communities, do not miss out on this opportunity.

As reported by Manuel Campos. Manuel is currently a student in the Graduate School of Medicine and serves as the Managing Editor of ‘The Sentinel’. 

Sosei Partners have held an orientation at Tohoku University last year. The founder of IRORI is an alumnus of Tohoku University.

Only In My Country: Thailand and the Art of Lottery Prediction

“Lottery”, from the Dutch word loterij, is now everywhere in the world. Basically, a lottery is referred to as a random-number ticket, which, like a bingo game, gives the buyer a chance to earn big money. Thus, buyers try their best guess to choose a number that may help them win. Talking about the way to get hold of that lucky number, some people may just choose the lucky number for themselves, for example, 8 (for Chinese) or 7 (for Japan). Some people choose from a lucky number list based on their zodiac signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini etc.), while some people seriously use scientific method such as probability and data science to calculate and get the number. By the way, the method used in Thailand is totally different. I can say that this unique lottery prediction which happened in Thailand is an unique art you can find nowhere else.

 

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A Thai lottery ticket

 

Thailand and lottery are close friends. Lottery began in Thailand in 1832 or about 186 years ago and was started by Chinese group. However, the lottery which exists today (Fig. 1), was first released (by the government) in the period of King Rama V (about 144 years ago). A Thai lottery consists of 6 numbers and costs around 80 baht (270 yen or 2.5 US dollars). Compared to the living cost, this price is not cheap at all. You can use 80 baht for 2-3 meals in Thailand! Moreover, the rate of winning the first prize (when all the 6 numbers get matched) is extremely low (0.0001%), with the winning rate of the cheapest prize being only 1% (when 2 of the last numbers are matched). Nevertheless, people still buy them a lot by parting a bit of their fortune inspite of the low winning rate. This has become one of the biggest sources of income for the government. And to compensate what they have paid for, getting the luckiest number is always a challenge in Thailand.

Thai lottery buyers have several funny and unique ways to obtain the number they believe would win. Here are some common methods that are still being used.

  1. People scratch bark of trees : Especially the old trees, such as a 100-year-old Ta-khian Tree (Fig. 2) or a one with a bizarre shape such as, a banana tree with dragon-like shape. Some Thai people believe that such trees hold spirits, fairies and god who, would help them get a lucky number. Of course, when the bark is scratched or rubbed, its surface is altered with a new wood pattern and people then try to use their imagination to find and read a number (supposed to be a lucky number). Some people also believe that sprinkling body powder during scratching will help them find the number easier! Every time the news about old trees or bizarre trees comes out, people would flock to it.

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    A tree bark could be your path of fortune!
  2. People take the number on the car license plate into account. Not only their own cars but also others: neighborhoods, celebrities or even the prime minister, are all relevant. The most memorable news about this was back in 2013. At this time, the government was led by the first woman prime minister in Thailand’s history “Yingluck Shinawatra”. Occasionally, one of the winning numbers matched with her business car and of course, there were people who bought the lottery ticket based on this in advance and won the same! Since then, for several months, the numbers which matched with each of her car’s license plates were sold abundantly. Apart from celebrity cars, the numbers on car license plates of the ones involved in big accidents are also in favor. What a dark humour!
  3. People infer the number from their dreams. Sometimes the story that we weave in our dreams have no origin and absolutely not relevant to what we see in daily life. Since lottery has already become one with the people of Thailand, they can pop up a number from our dreams without any reason or logic. For example, in your dream, if you see a chicken or a dragon, it means 1 (one); if you see a dead body, a chair or a bed, it means 4. Meanwhile, if you see umbrella or you were cursed by a ghost in the dream, it means 6. Thai people who are experts in this field can infer everything from dreams to numbers and then interpret them for lottery purchases.

If you want to follow this Thai style lottery prediction, I recommend the second method since it is very easy to remember the number on car license plates. The next winning number may be your own license plate number or that of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who knows! Of course, I do not recommend you rubbing a tree bark yourself because it may not be worth your transportation fee and labour cost (You know, it’s not fun at all to scratch a bark with bare hands!). The third method may be possible but more than half of us cannot remember our own dreams. This Thai-style art of lottery prediction may earn you a chance to win a big prize in the next announcement!

As reported by Rojrungsasithorn Tanach (TAE). Tae is student under IMAC-U program at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering, Tohoku University. He enjoys playing games and loves to cook fine desserts from time to time.

Only In My Country is a new series under ‘The Sentinel’ where we ask people some unique things about their country. If you have something interesting to share with us, please send us an email at tohokusentinel@gmail.com

This series is ideated and developed by Rojrungsasithorn Tanach (TAE).

 

Royal meets Rural: One Sendai Hotel’s Inbound Tourism Strategy

“How do we attract more tourists?” continues to be the big question asked by government agencies, tourism and travel companies, restaurants and finally major hotels here in Japan.

Several of the major luxury hotels here in Sendai, such as Metropolitan, Westin, and Kokusai Hotel, already boast high level service and partial, or complete, multilingual websites with multilingual staff, in addition to their excellent facilities. These hotels are also quite famous for their restaurants, which would be expected of any luxury hotel in the world. But what really sets these hotels apart from each other?

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While each are sure to have valid points to argue, one luxury hotel in Sendai is setting itself apart by combining the comfort of staying at a luxury hotel with the raw experience of rural nature, farming, and adventure.

Sendai Royal Park Hotel opened in 1995 with the theme of a European Manor. It appears almost castle-like in appearance, with an elegant interior and property-wide outside garden. Its location is both a blessing and a curse for tourism. Freeway access and the adjacent Izumi Premium Outlet shopping mall make this a great pitstop for those coming by car. However, while there is a free shuttle from Sendai Station, tourists from abroad are tempted to stay at more central hotels in the city center.

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In fact, Royal Park Hotel is on the border of Sendai’s suburbs and Izumi Ward’s farm country. And for this reason, as of last year, the hotel has started creating outdoor activities and programs specifically to attract international visitors– something other Sendai luxury hotels here have not yet started or simply can’t because of their confined location.

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Strawberry or mushroom picking, a cycle tour through rice fields and forest to a hidden waterfall, stargazing, and wintertime snowshoe trekking are starting to put the hotel on the radar of travelers. Another well-known program is “glamping” or “glamorous camping”. Think top quality cuisine paired with fine wine enjoyed inside a tent lit by a miniature chandelier. This was one of the activities introduced by Sendai-based YouTuber Chris Broad through his video “What does a $3000 Japanese Hotel Room look like?“, uploaded August 2017. The video has amassed over 910,000 views.

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Olga Zielińska, a Sendai resident with experience in Tohoku region travelling and tour guiding, recently tried the half-day cycling program. She remarked: “This is what none of the big metropolis in Japan have. The calm countryside of Sendai, lunch with fresh locally grown ingredients, the real traditional Japan experience within one hour drive from the city center, and, more importantly, without overwhelming crowds. Cycling along creeks and rice paddies while enjoying the view of Mt. Izumi, and later coming back for English-style teatime at the hotel was the perfect ending of an incredible stay at the hotel”

Director of the hotel, Katsuhiko Kasai, made it clear that that he wants to work together with locals and make sure they are happy during promotion efforts. He was surprised with the responses so far: “Farmers welcome us with waves and smiles, and once a tour group was flagged down and given freshly made sweets by a housewife! Sometimes our tours do lunch with farmers that have prepared rice balls from the same fields we cycle through!”. He also emphasized he wants participants to think about where their food comes from and to appreciate nature on a deeper level.

As the hotel has fewer rooms than other major hotels in Sendai, travel site reviews and word-of-mouth is challenging as there are just fewer guests compared with other hotels who are sharing their experiences. However, as Royal Park Hotel tours are also open for people in Sendai just visiting for the day, and there is a global trend in tourism for experiences over destinations, time will tell if such inbound tourism strategy will work—and how other hotels in Sendai will react. In the grand scheme of things, competition is good for business, especially when that business is promoting our city Sendai.

As reported by guest-writer Justin Velgus. Justin is an American who currently works with the Fukushima Prefectural Government but loves to explore Tohoku. He enjoys cycling and onsen and you can definitely treat him with gyozas!

A few additional comments were added by Manuel Campos. Manuel was born and brought up in Venezuela and is currently serving as the Managing Editor of ‘The Sentinel’.

My Little World

I am a lab secretary who works for two different labs. I ease their workload by providing administrative support and also helping them organise their time. My liking for supporting others probably comes through my parenting experience as I am also raising my 6-year-old boy. I believe that each Lab member is very unique and I always feel honored to assist such eligible colleagues. I also help international students with their personal lives. Since the are living far away from their families, I sometimes feel like being their mom.

There are several female students in my lab who are called ‘Rikejo’ in Japanese. It roughly translates to ‘female students(researchers) with science background’. I always had the image of them being very efficient yet cold but, they are really balanced and thoughtful. I really hope that they are able to build their careers as they wish to. In Japan, the burden of housework and raising a child tends to fall mainly on women of the household (called ‘Wan ope ikuji’ in Japanese, which means “one-person operation”). Even for me, as a part-time staff, it’s hard to juggle between work and motherhood (Our husbands are much busier). During the flu season, an epidemic spreads in Japan and all working moms feel the burden because they have to take time off from work and nurse kids alone. I believe that the university is open to men and women equally so, I want it to support researchers and staff along with their children. If you ask me, I would definitely like to support such a system in the future.

As expressed by Mika Kobayashi