(Quick note: we have a English-Chinese translator on board now. 🙂 Thank you Ethan for the Chinese translation.)
What’s that you’ve got there, Yamato?
Wanna try? It’s not Ramune, if that’s what you’re thinking.
Mhm-hmm. Japan’s first and – if I may add – finest soft drink. Come on, dear, do you really think I’d give you something so common as any old 150 yen vendor-ware?
Aw, that’s so nice! I bet you made this, right?
Mhm-hmm! As much as I hate conforming to “historical” expectations (ugh, I bet if they had their way we’d all be perfect caricatures and I wouldn’t be allowed to drink anything other than lemonade), I am rather fond of these little bottles. They are infinitely reusable, and you have the freedom to bottle anything that you want. Too bad this one isn’t exactly as historical as I would have liked it. In that sense I confess, yes, I am an occasional hypocrite.
Hey, Yamato, I bet you know what?
I bet you that nobody reading this article right now is looking at the soda bottle when there’s the two of us in cute swimsuits right there on the page.
Mo! No fourth wall breaking until she says so! Quick, strut a bit and uh… look sexy. Morgane wanted a historical article and we need to get this back on track!
As much as I love writing about Pacific and its alternative world, I’m almost always mindful of the fact that well, I got into all of this because I’m really fond of history. If there’s one thing KanColle managed to get right, it’s the fact that yes, game really can get people interested in things that are more than just cute girls doing cute things.
As the creator, though, I feel like I’m always trying to strike an unusual balance. On one hand, I don’t want to just regurgitate historical tidbits. On the other hand, a lot of the historical tidbits are very interesting and deserves to be mentioned (in part because I don’t see people do that). So while I’m trying to figure out how to write these things, one thing is certain: it’s really fun digging into details and thinking about how I can craft something so that each line contributes to the development and impression of one of our girls.
The particular soft drink that Yamato is speaking of is Mitsuya Cider. Sune and I thought hard about crafting this part of her character, and we thought it made more sense for our Yammy be someone who’s not only keenly aware of her “roots” as a Japanese shipgirl, but also someone who is fiercely proud of her cultural heritage. Going through the groceries that Sune brings home on a regular basis for instance, and you’ll find a lot of “parenthesis: made in Japan” or “parenthesis: sourced in Japan”. It’s from this perspective that we settled on Mitsuya Cider. It makes sense – you’ll see why in a bit, and I think it provides a really good glimpse into history.
We’ve established in Pacific that while the shipgirl’s personalities and characters are fully autonomous from their “historical counterparts,” they will retain memories, experiences, or knowledge that are directly or indirectly connected with their identity. As such, what Yamato would be aware of is the extraordinary rapid change in Japanese dietary habits prior to the Meiji restoration and leading all the way up to the war. She would certainly know, and thereby have a taste for things such as beer and soda – both of which were symbols of industrialization (and to a lesser extent Westernization) and of course, luxury at the time.
The earliest advent of Japanese soft drinks, then, can largely be traced to Japan’s burgeoning beer industry. The limiting factor at the time for soft drink companies weren’t necessarily the lack of market – western drinks such as coca-cola has been positively received since the end of World War I – but rather the difficulties in producing containers that would have been appropriate. Just as the first commercial brewers for beer appeared around the 1870s, Japan’s glass manufacturing rose alongside it. By 1906, three of the largest Japanese brewery and drink companies merged into the Dai Nippon Beer Company, and it paved the way towards many of the standardization capabilities that would enable the production of an entire category of carbonated soft drinks the Japanese refer to as “Cider” (サイダー)
Unlike ciders as we would understand it, the Japanese cider is closer to a mixture between sprite and 7-up. These ciders, including Mitsuya, were colorless and transparent. Almost all of them had a lemon-lime taste to it. Now, I’m not a real historian, but we dug a little bit into what Ramune is supposed to be, and the term is a literal transliteration of the English word “lemonade.” A cursory glance into historical and period-appropriate documents show that unlike Mitsuya Cider, which had a defined brand and a defined recipe, “Ramune” was a catch-all term used to describe these type of drinks. Anything that had sugars and had a sour/lemony taste to it can be rightfully called “Ramune.” Thus, it is no wonder that many IJN vessels had the ability to produce such soft drinks. This was a period of time where such sweet treats were luxuries, and so long as you had an adequate batch of starting materials (sugar or lower grade syrups, lemon juice or various acids), you would certainly have been able to enjoy Ramune on board a ship.
This is what a “Ramune” type drink would have looked like during WW2. This is a bottle taken from Mutsu, and as you can see, it does not have any brands or markings associated with it. The bottles are plain, and it is likely that the taste and flavor would have differed slightly from batch to batch. Nonetheless, any ship that had the ability to carbonate the drink mixture would have been able to make this. (Whether or not there would have been enough for everyone, on the other hand, would be a very tough question to answer. Evidence – what scattered bits we can find – seems to suggest that soft drinks were stolen almost as often as alcohol on IJN ships)
Mitusya Cider, on the other hand, was created as a bona-fide soft drink by a company named Teikoku Kosen. It was Japan’s most popular branded soft drink at the time, and prior to their merger with Dai Nippon in 1933 (and thereby becoming the largest soft-drink producer in wartime Japan), you can already see that it commanded significant segments of the market.
Think about this for a second. A soft-drink company can squeeze itself into Japan’s top 200 industrial firms (rank 108 to 117), in an era where giant corporate-conglomerates (the Zaibatsu) was in full command of the Japanese economy. Is it any wonder that Yamato might be interested in that particular drink, either because she’s remembering it fondly, or perhaps she simply enjoys the taste?
(The picture on the left is a picture of what the Mitsuya Cider production facility looked like – and the machinery it used to make these sodas. The picture on the right is what Mitsuya Cider would have came in – in either green or olive bottles, with the Mitsuya logo emblazoned on the bottle itself. Clearly, as you can see, it does not look anything close to the marble bottles that Ramune as we know it today would come in.)
Now, you only know that Yamato “made” it herself. Did she bottle the Mitsuya Cider herself in a Ramune (marble soda) bottle? After all, it isn’t entirely inconceivable that a shipgirl like her might be living in a place where soda dispensers are available. Did she make the Mitsuya Cider from scratch, trekking to Hirano (平野) – the origin of Mitsuya Cider, where a river of her namesake also happens to run through the prefecture – to gather the materials herself?
That, I think, you’re going to have to ask her. 🙂 Now let’s take a look at the other thing of interest. What’s in Mo’s hand is probably one of the most recognizable things of Americana in the world today: the Coca-Cola.
There’s a lot of stuff that’s known about Coca-Cola already. In fact, in some parts of America (not where I’m from, of course), a “coke” is synonymous with any kind of carbonated soft drink. There are few things that influenced American culture the way Coca-Cola did, but here, I’m going to talk specifically about how it differed from what Yamato’s having.
For starters, while soft drinks were comparatively luxurious (an IJN sailor with frequent access to it would be unlikely to see it nearly as often if he was a civilian) in Japan, the Coca-Cola was widely affordable and drank in gigantic quantities by just about everyone. The Coca-Cola was 5 cents per 6.5oz serving. At a time where other fountain drinks hovered around seven or eight cents, this was not only affordable, but it was something that made Coca-Cola unique. For nearly seventy years or so, anyone could get a coke for just a nickel. This was a policy that endured throughout two world wars and the great depression, and the vintage advertisement shown below is just one of the many examples that contributed to Coca-Cola’s success.
Of course, when America went to war, Coca-Cola followed. To say that it was popular was again, an understatement. Always masters of advertising, Coca-Cola was more than just a delicious drink. It was also a morale booster, and a reminder to the millions of men on the frontlines of what home was. For the record, they definitely weren’t shying away from using cute girls to get their message across!
Yes, no matter where America went, Coca-Cola followed. Cynics may very well point out that Coca-Cola saw a huge business opportunity, and they are certainly not wrong in that regard – it was one of the few American companies that not only did business in Nazi Germany, but actually thrived in it as well. We can discuss the ethics in another post, but what I’d like to highlight is the impressive way in which Coca-Cola was associated with America. Soldiers frequently remarked on how Coca-Cola reminded them of home. Look at the Coca-Cola ads from the time, think about how it has been a part of American life and culture for decades even prior to the war, and you’ll quickly understand why Coca-Cola was an important morale booster for troops fighting on the front lines.
This is an example of a letter in 1918, requesting for more Coca Cola from the US Army.
Here’s an example from the Navy – thank our translator for translating that. 🙂
From naval officers of FTC Dam Neck (the source from which the previous passage came from) to fountains on US navy ships, Coca-Cola was ubiquitously popular in World War 2 as well. Though, again, unlike the IJN, the US had plenty of supplies to spare. Recollection from my great uncle who served on an aircraft carrier during WW2 mentions that he remember having both bottled Coca-Cola and “fountain” cokes, the latter of which he could have as much as the mess paid for and the former were readily available in the ship’s canteen.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think Mo needs any particular reason to like Coca-Cola. In fact, it would be a little stranger if she didn’t. 🙂
Alright, I think that’s enough words for today. See you guys next time.