food

Don't say you love watermelon until you've tasted the Japanese version of this summer treat

23 Comments
By Nisa Kazemi

As a preschool teacher in Japan, I often hear (and use) the question: “What is your favorite fruit?” For me, the answer is easy: watermelon. But not just any watermelon, Japanese watermelon.

You see, I’ve devoured watermelons in the Middle East, Europe, America, Australasia and Asian countries outside of Japan. However, I stand by my word that the Japanese watermelon is one in a melon (forgive me, I had to!)

If you’re not on the same page (yet) and you’re still not sure why these watermelons are special, let me break it down for you.

suika1.jpg

Watermelons are sweet regardless of which part of the world you’re enjoying them in, but nothing compares to the Japanese watermelon—these babies are crazy sweet delicious!

The main reason behind this is that watermelon in Japan—like many other fruits, in fact—is considered a luxury: something you’d give to a really important senpai as a thank you or summer gift rather than something essential for your seasonal diet.

With that in mind, farmers in Japan grow watermelons as if they were a piece of rare jewelry to please your guts: they choose the perfect soil, the perfect seeds, the perfect pruning methods and everything else to make them look and taste heavenly—if watermelons could be massaged, I bet that’d happen, too.

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And they come in all sizes, too.

To add to that, Japanese watermelon’s rind is much much thinner than all other kinds I have eaten, (i.e countless) meaning, getting plenty more for your buck.

Shapes and figures: Too many fancy kinds

Square… pyramid… heart-shaped… and black. Japanese are incredibly creative when it comes to producing out-of-the-box fruit.

Square watermelons, which are typically sold only at expensive department stores, were originally intended for space efficiency in small refrigerators. The fruits are placed into special containers in the shape of a cube to make them grow in a cube shape. Today, they are primarily sold for ornamental novelty due to their unmentionable price tags.

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Joining them are watermelons in the shape of hearts, pyramids, and even jinmen suika–watermelons in the shape of a human face! A bit creepy, but, hey, how creative is that?

Lastly, black watermelons, are produced in the town of Toma, Hokkaido island. They are famous for their extra sweet taste in comparison to normal Japanese watermelons—which as already mentioned are super sweet in the first place.

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Now that we’ve established that watermelons are gifts and delicious summer treats, you should also know that they are culturally significant too. You haven’t attended a true Japanese summer community gathering or festival in Japan if it hasn’t included suikawari (literally, watermelon splitting).

Click here to read more.

© Savvy Tokyo

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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Oh dear, the fallacy of the uniqueness of all things Japanese being the best?

I thought this notion would have died out with the advent of the jet plane and the internet -apparently not...

14 ( +17 / -3 )

And pay over 6000 Yen for a "Japanese watermelon"? No thanks, keep it.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Ooohhhh they’re better coz they’re Japanese? Got ya

14 ( +15 / -1 )

They’re not so expensive. You just have to know where to buy them.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Tisk tisk tisk,.. haters haters haters.

I concur, Japanese fruits are some of the best (brazil is up there too : )

And yes, after a life time exploring this planet, i would say a great deal of things are better in Japan.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

"I concur, Japanese fruits are some of the best "

I disagree. Fruits are tasteless here.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

If Japanese watermelons are tasteless to you you're probably the one who are tasteless

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Maybe this guy likes Japanese watermelons because the soil and climate make them tastier for him. Different places and their environments do that, you know. Just like Colombian and Brazilian coffee is ranked amongst the world's finest, Oregon potatoes are different from those in Michigan, California and Florida have different orange juices, Cuban cigars are highly regarded and different grades of marijuana are different - ganga, Panama Red, hashish.

Different strokes for different folks.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japanese water melons are lush, the best I've had in general. During my first summer here i chomped them every day.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Folks, be mindful fruit growers here us a LOT of pesticide\herbicide\mold inhibitors!!!

I heard nashi can be sprayed over 20times before they are picked to be eaten......""food"" for thought!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Yawn. The only plae you hear conversations about whose rice, watermelon, radish, tea, four seasons, temples, etc are better is in Japan. In many countries, no one gives a damn.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

my favorite fruit is also watermelon, and I agree that the best one I've had was in Japan. But also the most expensive... It is a matter of taste, so the haters can go on how tasteless, juicy/dry/poisoned/artificial they are

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I never thought Japanese watermelons were THAT great, I prefer the ones back in the States, particularly in the South.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The Thais squeeze fresh lime juice on their watermelon right before eating. Deeeelish!! This simple act that builds on the smooth watery sweetness of the watermelon with a sharp, tart high note underscores culinary genius.

But I've near heard Thais brag about it, like the Japanese brag about...just about everything they touch.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The ones I remember in south Texas were sweet. While a lot of Japanese fruits really are better here, the watermelons, not THAT much. Especially considering the price difference. Used to buy big full sized for a dollar or two twenty years ago. It’s hard to imagine they’d be more than five dollars today.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese water melons are tasty, but I can't say I've particularly noticed any difference compared to other countries, particularly when you take into account how expensive they are.

I prefer the taste of yellow flesh (no sniggering at the back please). Cantaloupe and honey dew Melons have a much richer flavour.

Water melons are great in summer because of the amount of water inside, but the taste is fairly weak. After all, no one really bothers with water melon juice, do they?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I liked watermelons before I came to Japan and saw a bunch of kids (some in their 30s) wolf watermelon slices down like they were starving to death. Quite unappetizing. As for the watermelon themselves, sorry, but I don’t see a huge difference between ones I’ve eaten in the US, Europe, and Singapore. Maybe they were all Japanese watermelons.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here we go again.....much prefer the watermelons on this list, especially the Georgia Rattlesnake

https://gardenerspath.com/plants/fruit/best-watermelon-varieties/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh dear, the fallacy of the uniqueness of all things Japanese being the best?

I used to be in the business, and it was commonly recognized that Japan has some of the best varieties in certain fruits. It's not just "everything is better in Japan." Some things clearly are better, and farmers have taken great pains to make them so. Very little of the fruit in the US, for example, is good. This is because most farmers focus on growing fruits with high yields and long shelf life (to allow for shipping). Taste is way down the list.

To make fruits the best, you need a domestic market that is willing to pay the price - and Americans like their fruit cheap. They'll pay $300 for grape juice, but balk at paying a slight premium for excellent table grapes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Thais squeeze fresh lime juice on their watermelon right before eating. Deeeelish!! This simple act that builds on the smooth watery sweetness of the watermelon with a sharp, tart high note underscores culinary genius.

I just might give that one a try.....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've had amazing watermelon here. And, I've had so-so watermelon here. The same goes for back in the US.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But I've near heard Thais brag about it, like the Japanese brag about...just about everything they touch.

Yep...on point.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

garypenAug. 31  10:33 pm JST

I've had amazing watermelon here. And, I've had so-so watermelon here. The same goes for back in the US.

Species, horticulture and genetic grossbreeding can make a difference too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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