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Hokkaido: Yubari Melon

Yubari Melon from Hokkaido

The Melon King Reigns in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is a large island in the north of Japan famed for its natural beauty. It is home to one of Japan’s biggest national parks, with mountains reaching heights of over 2,000 meters. The biggest city in Hokkaido is Sapporo City, which is host to the annual Sapporo Snow Festival. Every year people from all over Japan and around the world come to take part.

Not far from Sapporo and right in the middle of Hokkaido is Yubari City, home of the Yubari Melon (Yubari King), known as the king of melons. Yubari is surrounded by mountains and an abundance of volcanic ash means the soil offers great drainage. Yubari also has a huge difference in the day and night temperatures - which is perfect for melons. The bigger the temperature difference, the sweeter the melon.

The weather is cool and refreshing in the summer, great for enjoying the wide-open spaces of Hokkaido.

In winter, Yubari gets a lot of snow and skiing and ice skating are popular activities.

Yubari Melon’s Sweet Secret

The Yubari Melon is a cantaloupe melon. The inner flesh is orange and nectar sweet, with a succulent, melt-in-mouth texture, flooding your taste buds with juicy goodness. The outer skin is green and covered in a fine white mesh. The pattern tells us its flavor: the finer the mesh, the sweeter the fruit.

The Yubari Melon begins life in the cold winter, snug and warm inside a heated greenhouse. In spring, the plants begin to blossom. When the plant begins to fruit, farmers lay a mat underneath the melon to help it grow into a perfect sphere. The mat also prevents soil from sticking to the melon. The farmer adjusts the covering to make sure the melons receive the right amount of sunlight: Too much sunlight and the skin will not develop the distinctive white mesh.

When it is time for the melons to be shipped out, each melon undergoes rigorous inspections. Only melons that pass the inspection for flavor and shape can go on to be sold as Yubari Melons. It takes a lot of patience and dedication to grow an authentic Yubari Melon.

Long Live the Yubari Melon

Yubari has a population of around less than 10,000, making it a small city in Japan. Yet despite the size, when it comes to melon harvest season in May to August, the area is busy with events. Every year, the sale of Yubari Melons begins with the first auction. One year, a pair of melons were sold for an incredible 5 million yen.

Every year at the harvesting peak in June and July, the city holds the Yubari Melon Festival. There’s a melon auction where people can experience the excitement of bidding, and a melon eating contest for children competing to eat the most the quickest. It is a lively event and a great way to celebrate the harvest.

The Yubari Melon is delicious on its own, but it also makes a wonderful addition to any dessert, and is used in jelly, ice cream, and cakes. In fact, the Yubari Melon is so popular, the tiny town of Yubari is world-famous. The Yubari Melon is the pride of Yubari, and a treasure enjoyed by everyone, where ever they may live.