Yesterday, I wrote about the “Cool Japan” initiative whereby the Japanese government hopes to promote Japanese culture abroad. That being said, we Westerners will soon see more of Japan without even venturing overseas. What is the next Japanese import you ask? How about square watermelons?
Summertime is the ideal time to enjoy the cool, sweet taste of watermelons and the Japanese farmers in the Kagawa prefecture are known to produce some of the sweetest watermelons available in the market. But for years, consumers have struggled with the task of fitting those large round melons in their refrigerators or other storage places; particularly in Japan where space is an issue in crowded areas and the refrigerators are smaller. However, the Japanese, who are known for their innovativeness and practicality have once again done the seemingly impossible. Square watermelons!
About 30 years ago, a farmer living on the island of Shikoku solved the problem. He conceived the idea of making a cube-shaped watermelon which could be packed, stored and served with great ease. Before a watermelon is fully grown, it is placed in a clear acrylic box which lets in light allowing the fruit to grow. As the melon grows, it gradually takes the shape of the box it is placed in.
Square watermelons or watermelons that have unusual shapes (Japan also sells heart-shaped watermelons) are sold in department stores at a cost of over 10,000 ¥ each (US$98). The production of square watermelons contributed to spiked maintenance and farming costs which resulted in the higher prices. Further, this makes the fruit appealing and available only to the wealthy and fashion-conscious people residing in large metropolitan areas like Tokyo and Osaka.
This year however, Japan will begin shipping their square watermelons overseas. Japanese agricultural officials stated that they have received 114 orders from Canada alone thus far. The Japanese Agricultural division wants to increase production capacity and expand the supply of square watermelons overseas. The square watermelons are scheduled to be shipped in mid-July. Will you try one?