Translated by Lester Somera
Facts On Japan's Drinkable Tap Water
Does Japan's water taste different compared to the one from your home country? Read this article to learn more about Japan's drinkable tap water.
Written by Hiromasa Uematsu
Water intake is always important and easily forgotten during a trip. Thirsty travelers will not be able to fully enjoy the sights, and could even potentially make themselves very sick.
This article provides basic information on drinkable water in Japan.
Japan's Tap Water is Drinkable
Japan's tap water is drinkable. The national water infrastructure is reliable and purification facilities are well-maintained, so the tap water is good quality and easy on the stomach.
Alongside places such as Finland and Germany, Japan is one of only fifteen or so countries in the world with clean water. If you're feeling thirsty, a glass of tap water can easily solve the problem.
Tokyo Tap Water is Even Sold in Japan
Some readers may be thinking that even if the tap water is safe to drink, mineral water just tastes better, so there's no need to drink from the tap.
Why not give Tokyo tap water a try? Bottled Tokyo tap water is available for sale as well. This product was created for Tokyo PR purposes, so it can be purchased for around 100 yen.
In Tokyo, the bottled water is currently available at places like the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building store, the Tokyo Omiyage Center inside Tokyo Station, and Ueno Park (as of 2014). It may be a little strange to pay money for tap water, but you can consider it a souvenir from Tokyo.
Japan's Water is Soft
Some visitors to Japan, particularly those from Europe, may notice something strange when they drink Japanese tap water for the first time. This is because the water supply in Japan has a different "hardness level" compared to the supply in Western countries. Hardness level is an indication of the amount of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, dissolved in water.
Including tap water and spring water sources, the water in Japan is mostly "soft water," with a low hardness level. This is different from the water in European countries. Soft water has a milder flavor than hard water and is easier to drink, but to someone used to hard water, soft water can taste inadequate.
Unfortunately, hard water is difficult to obtain in Japan. If you want to drink hard water during your trip, it would be easiest to purchase mineral water such as Evian.
Hard mineral water is comparatively easy to find at Japanese convenience stores
Japanese Dishes Owe Their Flavor to the Delicious Water
Since hard and soft water have different tastes, it is only natural that they are each suitable for using to make various dishes. It is said that Japanese food like soba and tofu are particularly delicious because of the mild taste of the water used.
There is also dashi, which is created by simmering kombu (kelp) and other ingredients to make a base for cooking. It is said that soft water is more effective at extracting the flavor components.
The bitterness and astringency of Japanese teas are also easier to draw out with soft water. It helps to make the difference in flavors more pronounced.
Japanese water may be difficult to get used to for some people. However, it is also an important component of Japanese culture. When you try it, think of it as another part of experiencing Japan.
For more information on water in Japan please refer to Things To Note When Drinking Mineral Water In Japan.