All right folks, particularly those of you from the UK, Australia and New Zealand, or anyone from any country who may know something about this, feel free to jump in here for this Q&A:
Q: Do you know of any Japanese soft drinks that you dilute before drinking? I'm from the UK where these are referred to as squash or cordial. I'm not sure what the equivalent name is in the US. I'd like to track some down in Japan as it will be a cheaper option than the ready-to-drink Coke/Calpis/Green tea etc., I've been buying at vending machines / supermarkets.
A: Thanks for your question, Alistair. To be honest, I'm not entirely familiar with squash or cordial, and as far as I can tell from my research, it sounds similar to concentrate that we use in the US, typically for juice or party drinks (usually alcoholic but not all the time). I'm not sure this is exactly the same as what you may be referring to, and if not hopefully some others out there will know exactly what you are talking about and be able to help.
However, if it is similar, or just for anyone out there wondering about juice concentrate in Japan - in almost every daily goods store I've been to, there is a section for various concentrates one typically uses when mixing drinks. (This is also where you can typically find club soda, ginger ale, and similar items). Usually they are located next to or near the alcoholic beverages (wine, sake, etc.) The selection I've found seems to vary by store... Supermarkets also often have a small section for these as well. The choices tend to be limited in most of the stores I've been to, but depends on what you are looking for.
Amazon.jp has examples of what I'm talking about, and some can be found by using the katakana form of "cordial" (コーディアル). (Though again, not entirely sure if that is what you are looking for).
I've discovered juice concentrate to be more difficult to find, though I've occasionally seen apple juice type concentrate in stores (and lemon juice, though not for lemonade as it's just straight), and orange juice concentrate via The Flying Pig and cranberry juice concentrate via Tengu Natural Foods.
However, one way to save some money on various drinks is to buy the larger bottles (if you don't already) - you can usually find these for water, tea, and different kinds of soft drinks, though not all kinds. (Supermarkets and daily goods type stores will offer more of a selection than convenience stores). They typically don't cost much more than a regular size bottle, but last much longer.
So, I'd like to now hand this off to all the readers out there (specifically those of you who know all about cordial/squash) to please share any of your experiences with this in Japan, such as where you found it, what kinds are available that you know of, or anything other pertinent information. Thanks much in advance!
There's a website I've heard of (but haven't ordered from) called British Corner Shop, that appears to carry squash and ships all over the world. Might be worth a try if you really want something you can't find here! (Though, that would probably defeat the purpose of trying to find cheaper alternatives locally!)