When talking about Japan and Japanese food, one topic is sure to come up at some point. Fruit. Expensive and fancily packaged fruit that is unlike anything shown in most stores in Europe. But the most curious fruit – in my opinion – is the square melon grown in Japan.

I’m sure all of you have seen it before – a square watermelon on display, a cheeky article about its existence, or stories about eating an expensive but delicious square honey melon. 

But why make it square? I hear you wonder. I certainly wondered the same so I went into the rabbit hole that is research to find out the truth behind the Square melons of Japan. 

Now, to start out – there is a clear distinction between the square watermelons and square honey melon. The latter being the only one that is actually edible – and for good reasons.

Square watermelons originate from Kagawa Prefecture in Zentsuji City, where they are being cultivated for display and ornaments only. Their unique shape and carefully cultivated appearance make them a popular display fruit for stores or as an expensive present.

But why make a square melon in the first place? Originally a farmer – over 50 years ago – decided to try and create a melon that could easily be stored in a refrigerator. And he did succeed! Square watermelons became quite popular though their use has changed since their creation. Along the way, they became inedible and created for display only. With a price tag of 100 Euro/750dkk and upwards, the inedible square melon is a quiet curious thing to see. 

If you feel disappointed at the realization that square watermelons aren’t actually edible, then do not worry – every year in May, heart watermelons are made with a sweet and ripe taste that will leave you wanting for more!

And there is another melon that was made square in Japan! Though relatively unknown to foreigners compared to the square watermelon, the honey melon has also been made square in some parts of Japan! With its sweet taste and interesting shape, it is a sure hit with intrigued foreigners – and personally, I cannot wait to return to Japan to try one myself! 

Ari Boettcher

Ari - Freelance Writer and Illustrator with an interest in Japan and Japanese culture.

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