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Remember the drops from Studio Ghibli's movie Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka)? The ones that are saved up till the last moment, and savored as the only pleasurable thing the little girl has left, and run out in the end, as well. These drops mirrored the inner state of the two protagonists in the movie, foreshadowing the final events.

Well, these drops really exist. Yep, various varieties of these tearjerkers are available for purchase right here in Japan, in the very same cans as shown in the movie. A friend of mine told me, that they must have existed for quite some time, and probably originated in the early Taisho-period, if not late Meiji.

Of course, I immediately bought some of them. They are quite nice, but nothing special, similar drops can be had all around the world, I guess. But what makes them special, is the connotation. Later, when I offered some to another friend of mine, the following discourse ensued:

  • Me: "Want some Drops?"
  • Her: "Do you want me to start crying right here on the spot or what? Put those away!"
  • Sometimes, a drop is more than just sweets...

    サクマ ドロップス

    I just got a 170g tin of Sakuma Shiki Drops, about the same size as an early-90's Walkman, as an omiyage gift from an old friend of mine. These differ from real, hardcore Sakuma Drops in a couple of superficial ways (different colored container, slightly different ingredients). Since I've never seen Grave of the Fireflies, they make me happy by filling my mouth with sweet tastiness, as they should. Here's what I can tell you about them, to add to what VAG has said already:

    • The tin says 非常・携帯用 hijô keitai yô ("For emergency and portable use"). This, coupled with the fact that vitamin C is added, would make you think that Sakuma Drops are supposed to be a survival food, but the Nutrition Facts section clearly says "Candy." Go fig.
    • Sakuma Drops have been made since Meiji 41 (1919). The manufacturer is Sakuma Confectionery K.K. in Ikebukuro 2-chome.
    • Some of the flavorings include paprika, cacao, and gardenia. Umai!
    • A tin of Sakuma Drops contains 660 calories and 420 mg of vitamin C.
    • Each tin also has a shelf life of three years. If you think candy is supposed to last forever... well, you're kind of like me. But you're supposed to consume your Sakuma Drops within three years of buying them. (If you don't, you probably don't deserve them anyway!)
    • ...However, the candy will get quite smegged up if you leave the tin in the sun. The "preservation directions" request that you keep your Sakuma Drops away from direct sunlight and high temperatures.
    • Finally, you might wonder, "Why put candy in a tin?" Well, according to the fine print on the label, it's a flavor preservation measure. How 'bout that!
    Several online stores (jlist.com, candydirect.com) will ship Sakuma Drops anywhere in the world. Yay!

    If you read Japanese, check out http://taro.haun.org/sakuma.html for an interesting (sort of) look at the many kinds of Sakuma Drops.

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