Japan is known for having some of the most luxurious and expensive fruits in the world, and the Yubari Melon is no exception. Cultivated exclusively in the Yubari region of Hokkaido, this melon is grown under strict conditions to make it worthy of its high price tag. In this article, we’ll learn all about the Yubari King Melon and what makes it so special, as well as introduce some popular Yubari Melon flavored snacks and desserts that you can try on your next visit to Japan!
What Is A Yubari King Melon And What Does It Look Like?
The Yubari King Melon is a highly prized and luxurious fruit that originates from the city of Yubari in Hokkaido, Japan. It is renowned for its exquisite taste, exceptional sweetness, and unique appearance. It is also one of the most expensive fruits in Japan.
The Yubari King Melon is a hybrid of two cantaloupes whose taste is often described as exceptionally sweet, fragrant, and indulgent.
As for what features make a Yubari Melon so special, each melon is carefully inspected by hand and checked according to its sugar content, net pattern, shape, and size. A Yubari Melon must weigh between 1.0 to 2.5 kg and have a slight oval shape. Yubari King Melons have a fine, delicate net-like pattern on their rind. The netting should be evenly distributed and aesthetically appealing. Its flesh is orange-colored and very soft and juicy. It also must have a high sugar content.
Where Are Yubari Melons Grown?
Yubari Melons come from Yubari city, situated in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. Yubari’s geographic location is surrounded by mountains and hills, meaning there is a big difference between temperatures during the day and night. This difference in temperature plays a large part in determining the taste of the melon, and the bigger the temperature difference, the sweeter the melon tastes.
In addition to the mountainous surroundings, the Yubari region contains an abundance of volcanic ash providing a great source of drainage for the soil. Yubari Melons begin life during the wintertime where they are grown inside heated greenhouses.
During the spring the farmers place a special mat underneath each melon to help it grow into its perfect shape and to stop soil from sticking to the melon. The melon farmers also need to make sure that each melon receives the exact correct amount of sunlight to ensure the fruit meets its strict conditions for being classified as a Yubari Melon.
When Is Yubari Melon In Season?
Yubari Melons are harvested between May and August, and during this time, many events take place in the Yubari area, including the Yubari Melon Festival in June which features an exciting melon auction and a melon eating contest!
Is Yubari Melon Common In Japan And What Is Its Significance To Japanese Culture?
While the Yubari King Melon is highly regarded and sought after in Japan, it is not considered a common or everyday fruit. Instead, it is often considered a luxury item due to its exceptional taste, limited availability, and premium prices.
Yubari King Melons have significant cultural significance in Japan as part of the culture of giving luxury fruits as gifts. The melons are frequently exchanged during formal ceremonies, celebrations, or to express gratitude. In Japanese culture, giving a Yubari King Melon is seen as a gesture of respect and goodwill.
What Does Yubari Melon Taste Like?
In a nutshell, the Yubari Melon's taste can be described as exceptionally sweet, juicy, and aromatic. The Yubari Melon is a type of cantaloupe melon with a sweet and juicy, orange-colored inner flesh that melts in your mouth. The outer skin is green and covered in a fine white mesh.
How Much Do Yubari Melons Cost?
The price of a Yubari Melon depends on which grade of melon you buy. For example, the best quality Yubari Melons have a sugar content of 13% or higher, are exceptionally sweet, and are very rare to find. These top-tier melons can command the highest prices of up to $300 per melon.
But if you are wondering what is the most expensive price for a Yubari Melon – according to Kyodo News, a record was set in 2019 when a pair of Yubari King Melons were sold for $45,000 at auction!
The next grade down from the top tier of Yubari Melons has a sugar content of at least 12% and is ideal for a special gift with its smooth flesh and clean net. Yubari Melons with a sugar content of at least 11% are also popular for gift-giving and for consuming at home. You can expect to pay around JPY 5,000 ($35) for a melon of this quality.
Yubari Melons with a sugar content of at least 10% are still considered good quality and are more affordable, priced slightly cheaper at just over JPY 4,000 per melon.
Where Can I Find Yubari Melons?
As Yubari Melons are only cultivated in the Yubari region of Hokkaido, and due to the fact that the melons must be consumed quite soon after ripening, it’s very difficult to find them outside of Japan.
The easiest way to consume Yubari Melons is to probably visit Hokkaido but if you’re not able to do that you should also be able to find them throughout Japan at fruit stores and parlors that specialize in selling high-quality seasonal fruits.
How To Enjoy Yubari Melon?
According to the official Yubari Melon organization, the Yubari Melons are grey-green when they are fresh, but over time they change color to greenish yellow and then yellow. The best time to eat them is when they are greenish yellow and as they ripen quickly, there is a short window to consume them at their best.
To eat the melon, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and enjoy! For storing, cover the melon in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator.
Yubari Melon is delicious as a treat on its own, but you could also try pairing it with other fruits or sweets for a luxury dessert experience! For example, you could pair it with other fruits like grapes or berries to make a fruit salad, eat it with ice cream, or make a Japanese-style fruit parfait!
Yubari Melon Sweets, Snacks, And Souvenirs To Try!
As well as the Yubari Melons themselves, there are plenty of delicious Yubari Melon flavored desserts and snacks that you can try the next time you are in Japan. Here are a few of our top recommendations:
Yubari Melon Cakes
The Yubari Melon Steam Cake is a popular souvenir item from Hokkaido. It consists of a baked sponge cake with a dome-shaped top filled with smooth melon cream. In Hokkaido there is also a roadside station called Yubari Merode, where you can find all kinds of Yubari Melon food items including Yubari Melon Baumkuchen, a ring-shaped cake coated in Yubari Melon flavored chocolate.
Yubari Melon Pudding
This creamy and smooth pudding is infused with Yubari Melon juice and is similar in consistency to a crème caramel.
Yubari Melon Jelly
This easy-to-eat, bite-sized high-quality jelly contains Yubari Melon juice as its main flavoring. It is a popular souvenir item that can be enjoyed chilled or from frozen.
Yubari Melon Chocolates
It’s also possible to find Yubari Melon flavored chocolates in Japan with brands like Kit Kat and Pocky having released their own Yubari Melon flavored versions of their famous products. The Yubari Melon Pocky features 24% Yubari melon juice in their coating and is only available to purchase in Hokkaido.
Yubari Melon Langue de Chat Cookies
Another popular snack item are Yubari Melon flavored cookies. These crispy and buttery sandwich-style cookies feature a creamy melon filling between two biscuits.
Morinaga Hi-Chew Japanese Soft Candy Yubari Melon Flavor
This HI-CHEW soft candy has the flavor of Yubari Melon and tastes just like real fruit! This product was exclusively sold in souvenir shops in Hokkaido but is now also available online through the Japanese Taste store here.
Puccho Yubari Melon
Puccho's Yubari melon flavor is made with 100% Yubari melon juice. Puccho is a popular soft candy with gummies inside. This Yubari Melon version features yogurt-flavored candy with Yubari Melon gummies inside.
In conclusion, the Yubari Melon stands out as one of Japan's most indulgent and luxurious fruits. Although finding Yubari Melons outside of Japan can be challenging, they can be enjoyed in Hokkaido or at specialized fruit stores and parlors across Japan.
If you can’t make it to Japan during the Yubari Melon season, aside from the fresh fruit, there are various Yubari Melon-flavored desserts and snacks to explore. These include cakes, puddings, jellies, chocolates, cookies, and candies. These delectable treats capture the essence of Yubari Melon and offer a delightful way to experience its unique flavor.
Interested in learning more about Japanese luxury fruits? Be sure to check out some of the following articles on Miyazaki Mangoes, Japanese strawberries, Japanese Fruits 101, or learn how to make your own Japanese style fruit sandwich at home!