Clear confectionary artist tomei

Japanese artist tomei, whose name (透明 tōmei in Japanese) means clear or transparent, specializes in clear confectionaries and art objects. We previously introduced her stunning blue sky jelly cake, and you can see others like it on her Twitter account:

Reiu: Herbal soda syrup inspired by a soothing summer rain

Recently, tomei collaborated with non-alcoholic beverage brand SHINRA on a unique herbal soda syrup called Reiu 零雨.

Reiu is made from juniper berries, which is also an ingredient in gin, as well as lavender and bergamot. Inspired by its soothing blue hue and flavor, tomei named it Reiu, meaning "a rain that brings a sense of tranquility and clarity to the mind, expressing the moment when you notice a refreshing summer rain that begins to fall quietly."

It was developed to create a cool and relaxing experience, with an aroma and taste that will satisfy even the slowest of sips. Combining tomei's visuals that convey a sense of transparency, specially chosen music, and SHINRA's expertise on blending herbal ingredients, it's a one-of-a-kind experience you can enjoy with all of your senses.

Reiu was so highly anticipated that a preliminary lot of 100 sold out only 2 hours after they went on sale on June 23rd, 2022.

Unboxing experience

As soon as we took the package out of the cardboard shipping box, the experience began. The message: "Celebrate your feelings," invited us to clear our thoughts, take a deep breath, and prepare to take in whatever we were about to discover when we opened it.

Photo by grape Japan

We were greeted by a piece of velum paper printed with tomei's photograph of water signed by the artist. This image will be even more effective if you've watched any of tomei's videos on her YouTube channel 透明愛好家tomei. She pays close attention to lighting and uses ASMR-quality sound to convey the trickling, splashing, and other noises that help convey the sense of water and liquid along with the associated concept of transparency. The soothing blue colors and the image of water instantly brought back such moments from her videos to our minds.

Photo by grape Japan

The bottle's design reflected tomei's aesthetic: balanced, gentle and soothing. The color was unlike any syrup we had seen before. There are many blue syrups on the Japanese market, often marketed as "Blue Hawaii" and used in shaved ice, cocktails or the like, but their color is usually bright blue. Reiu is a more subtle, soothing shade of cyan, blending blue and green, and as we would soon find out, it turns incrementally brighter shades of beautiful turquoise with the addition of soda water.

Photo by grape Japan

Following the provided instructions of 1 part syrup (chilled in the refrigerator) to 4 parts sparkling water (as shown below), we made the soda. You can also add a wedge of lemon or some fresh mint for a variation.

After enjoying the beautiful gradation of colors, we used a glass straw to ensure that the taste would be unaltered by any trace of metallic taste from our usual reusable straw, and gave it a sip.

It didn't disappoint. Like many "ciders" (サイダー saidā) in Japan (not to be confused with the beverage made from the fermented juice of apples), it has a citrusy base. However, the added botanicals, particularly the juniper berries, gives it more depth and character and a refreshing flavor.

Reiu Ice Cream Soda

Perhaps inspired by the stylish blue ice cream soda float we tried at Kissa Nikai, we thought that Reiu would look beautiful in an ice cream soda, so we experimented.

Although our photo doesn't do justice to it, the vanilla ice cream slowly diffusing into the soda beneath it created an attractive contrast with the blue syrup beneath. It reminded us of a an arctic ocean with a layer of snow and ice above it. Perhaps we should have placed a little penguin as a decoration on top instead of a maraschino cherry and sprinkles...

Photo by grape Japan

We also tried to make our own "cloud" version, inspired by tomei's jelly cakes, with a few strategically placed dollops of whipped cream in between the ice.

Photo by grape Japan

Of course, our amateurish attempts are nowhere close to tomei's artistry, but we think we succeeded in showing how Reiu can create attractive and tasty drinks. Next time, we're thinking of making a cocktail with it. The possibilities are endless.

Reiu comes bundled with another SHINRA syrup called Jiu 慈雨, a craft cola with thyme as the key botanical note.

The set of two 180 ml bottles costs 3,440 JPY, tax included, plus 1,510 JPY standard delivery fee with Yamato Transport within Japan (waved for purchases of 4 sets or more). You can buy it on SHINRA's online store here. At the time of writing, purchases made now are slated for delivery between October 5th and 7th, 2022 *

* Refers to delivery time to Japanese addresses. You may be able to have your purchase shipped outside of Japan through a forwarding service like Buyee or White Rabbit Express but it will take longer to arrive. (Products contain no alcohol).

By - grape Japan editorial staff.