What are Japanese melons made of?


I wouldn’t say that food in Japan is particularly expensive, at least when compared to countries like Finland where a shopper needs to hand in a new credit card application every time they do their weekly shop. But some things are surprisingly expensive in Japan, for instance, melons.

In a pretty standard supermarket (e.g., Foodium or Kohyo), it is not unusual to see melons that cost between £15-20 (€20-25) each. I suppose one could argue that this is cheap, given that in high end Japanese department store food sections (e.g., Daimaru) you can find melons that cost £50 (€65) each or more!

Perhaps these super expensive melons are pampered and nurtured like the cows that produce the famous, expensive and amazingly delicious Kobe beef. These cows are played music to, given massages to, and fed beer to ensure that they have (relatively) happy and stress-free lives and consequently their meat is extremely succulent (yeah, succulent, unless you make the mistake of asking my husband to cook it – I mean, he can transform even the most succulent piece of meat into something that resembles more that of a tractor tyre than the most expensive beef under the sun).

But I just can’t see what they can possibly do to these melons to make them so expensive. Water them with beer, stroke them, play music to them? If that’s what they do, I think there needs to be more research to establish the effect of music, stroking and beer on the well-being of a plant and the quality of the fruit it produces (and whether these justify the ridiculously expensive fruit prices).

In any case, call me an unsophisticated brute with no understanding of quality, but unless these melons are made of platinum or Strongbow cider, I consider them way overpriced. What do you think?

The price of melons in Japan (approx. £17 each)

The price of melons in Japan (approx. £17 each)

The price of melons in England (£0.69 each)

The price of melons in England (£0.69 each)

13 thoughts on “What are Japanese melons made of?

  1. Wow, I honestly can’t believe how expensive they are! I guess my lack of travel really limits my understanding of subjects like this, I’ve always assumed that other countries have relatively inexpensive supermarkets like here in the UK. I need to get out more!

    • Hi Lydia,
      Yes, Japan also has relatively cheap supermarket (in addition to Harrods-style posh department stores) but some items, like melons and grapes, can be really expensive. I don’t quite understand why. 🙂

    • Yeah, I know they look nicer and they are bigger than the ones we get in Tesco, but still, they are pretty expensive! I wouldn’t dream of wolfing down half a melon with those prices (like I do in the UK) 😀

  2. It seems every country seems to have its random luxury items! I can’t handle the price of herbs in the US. You pay like $10 for 10 grams of dried parsley, or something as mundane as that. I import lots of herbs! I still have a ginormous mixed herbs box from Manchester. Its as big as a baby’s head and cost, what, 3 quid? Germany charges lots of money for bottled still water, but nothing much for bubbly water. In the US it’s the other way round.

    • Hi Eileen,
      I didn’t know that herbs are expensive in the states. And still water being more expensive than sparkling water in Germany is really interesting. If anything, I’d expect sparking water to be more expensive. Perhaps, like you say, every country has their expensive items, although in Finland everything is expensive 😀

  3. i think they’re appreciated for their aesthetics and, perfect markings etc, and I am sure I recall reading ages ago they have a special meaning as a gift….I think Japanese melon experts would run a mile from those Tesco specimens from the bottom of the barrel! Have you seen the REALLY expensive ones that are grown in a box so they are square?!

    • Hi Jamie,

      Yeah, I’m sure the Japanese experts would run a mile from Tesco’s melons 😀 😀

      I had a student whose family owns a mountain on which they grow high-end (and maybe also Tesco-quality) peaches. I asked him who would be willing to pay £15-30 for a peach and he said the same thing as you. He said that they are often bought as presents. He added that sometimes he himself buys some expensive grapes (like £50 bunch) and has a couple of grapes per day as a real treat.
      The problem I have is that a bunch of grapes tend to be eaten in one sitting in my household 🙂

      • Sorry, forgot to say that yes, I’ve seen the square watermelon. In a posh department store near our apartment they sell them. They are displayed in glass cabinets and cost something like £80 each. Not quite like Tesco 😀

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