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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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