One thing any tourist will notice when they go to Japan is the people’s penchant for drinking cold water. No matter the season, you’ll always see Japanese people drinking cold water. Yes, even in the winter!
What could be the reasons behind this? Is drinking cold water a cultural thing? Or is it a habit developed from convenience?
Read on to discover why the Japanese always drink cold water!
Why Do Japanese Always Drink Cold Water?
They are several reasons why most of Japanese people always drink cold water but we listed the 5 main ones below.
- Cold water tastes better
- Cold water isn’t seen as “unhealthy”
- Drinking cold water is convenient and free
- Cold water is seen as fresh
- Offering cold water is a sign of respect
1. Cold water tastes better
Potable water is available in Japan and can be drunk directly from the tap. But, the water disinfection process gives the water a weird aftertaste and smell. Adding ice to the water or placing it in the fridge helps make the water tastier for Japanese people.
Additionally, cold water helps make food taste better as well. The cold, refreshing afternote pairs nicely with the often umami-rich food in Japan.
2. Cold water isn’t seen as “unhealthy”
In other countries, drinking cold water is an unhealthy habit. This is not the case in Japan, where people actually prefer cold water over hot water. Drinking cold water is directly related to what the Japanese view as healthy and normal.
Strict water quality processes remove the health risks of drinking cold, tap water. Because of that, drinking cold water often won’t actually cause gastrointestinal problems.
This may be opposite to what non-Japanese people commonly believe. Furthermore, there’s no scientific evidence that drinking cold water makes you unhealthy!
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3. Drinking cold water is convenient and free
In any restaurant in Japan, they will always serve cold and iced water to customers. Cold water is usually served even without the customer asking for it. The best extra it is that there are no extra charges for requesting cold water.
Drinking cold water over hot water also takes less effort. It takes more time to boil water than just put ice in a drinking glass.
In vending machines and konbinis, it would also be hard to find room temperature or hot water. Hence, the fact that it’s easily available factors into why Japanese prefer cold water.
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4. Cold water is seen as fresh
One of the reasons why the Japanese prefer cold water is because of their cold food culture. It’s no secret that the Japanese eat raw food like sashimi because of their freshness. Drinking cold water may be a habit associated with consuming fresh food.
The coldness of water is a sign of its freshness. If water is given cold, it means the ice hasn’t melted or that it hasn’t been left out for a long time. Because of that, you can be sure of its cleanness and freshness!
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5. Offering cold water is a sign of respect
While it’s a lot easier to make cold water now, it was a lot more difficult in the past. In Japanese history, ice and cold water were usually reserved for nobles or royalty in Japan. This is because it took a lot of effort then to make cold beverages and items.
The idea of offering cold water as a sign of respect towards someone still persists in Japan. Preparing and giving cold water to someone is a show of good manners and courtesy. That’s also one of the reasons why restaurants and even house hosts prefer to give cold water to their patrons.
Read more on etiquette in Japan here: Things Not To Do In Japan.
Who knew that drinking cold water had a lot of significance for people in Japan? We hope you were able to learn something new about Japanese culture from this article.
Did these reasons change your perspective about drinking cold water? Will you be drinking more of it in the future?
Do you know anything else about the Japanese’s preference for cold water. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
Before to leave, you may also want to read why Japanese people are not religious.