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All About Hokkaido Melons: Why Are Yubari Melons So Expensive?

All About Hokkaido Melons: Why Are Yubari Melons So Expensive?

Date published: 19 June 2021

Hokkaido melons are one of the north island's specialties! From ice cream flavors to the fruit itself, you can find a variety of products made with different Hokkaido melon brands.

Of these, the Yubari King brand is foremost in both recognition and reputation. Their mellow taste is accompanied by a rich fragrance, giving the succulent flesh of the fruit an exquisite flavor that is delightfully robust.

In recent years, these melons have started to make a name for themselves around the globe, with many paying more attention as a result. Don't miss out! Enhance your enjoyment of this delectable fruit by learning more about the melon season in Hokkaido, types of fruit, and simple tips on how to determine the best time to eat a ripe melon.

Table of Contents
  1. Popular brands of Hokkaido melons
  2. When is Hokkaido's melon season, and how can I determine the best time to enjoy my melons?
  3. How much do Hokkaido melons cost?
  4. Where can I buy myself a Hokkaido melon?
  5. All the Hokkaido melons you can eat!?
  6. Can I ship my Hokkaido melons overseas?
  7. Hokkaido melon-flavored snacks that taste just like the real thing!

Popular brands of Hokkaido melons

Popular brands of Hokkaido melons

"Hokkaido melon" is a term that encompasses a wide range of branded melons being cultivated all over the region of Hokkaido. Here's a list of some of the more prominent brands for your quick and handy reference.

●Yubari King

This famous melon is probably the image that comes up in most people's minds when the word "Japanese melon" is mentioned.

One of the pioneers of Hokkaido melon, stashes of Yubari King seeds are kept in a secure safe to ensure its preservation, and the quality of the melons under this brand is carefully controlled.

As a result, the melon's flavor is consistently delectable. The melon's flesh is soft, juicy, and fragrantly sweet. In terms of taste, it certainly lives up to its "king" moniker!

Furano Melon

While Hokkaido's Furano area is more closely associated with beautifully manicured lavender fields, Hokkaido melons are also specialty products here.

Unlike Yubari King, many different species of melons are classified as Furano Melons, so you'll find both orange- and green-fleshed melons being sold under the same brand. There are subtle differences in taste depending on the particular species you buy. Still, all of them have firm and crunchy fruit flesh and can be kept for quite a long time.

One of the hallmarks of Furano Melons is its relatively high sugar content, measuring an average of 15% across the board.

Looking for something special? Check out the orange-fleshed Furano Melons with an image of Hello Kitty carved onto its skin! There's only a limited stock for such batches available, so it's definitely a must-buy if you can find one!

●Raiden Melon

Raiden Melons are being grown on the western edge of Shakotan Peninsula, in the regions of Raiden and Kyowa Town.

This well-known local delicacy also has a reputation for being full of high-quality fruit juice that's sumptuously sweet. Both the orange- and green-fleshed versions of the melon are being cultivated in the Raiden area. Still, the orange-fleshed one is more popular for how it simply melts in the mouth.

These are but a few of the relatively more popular melon brands. Other famous melons include the orange-fleshed melons of Mikasa, Tsukigata, or Kuriyama, all areas that are close to the Yubari region, or the Yotei Melon being cultivated in the Niseko area. Don't forget to check them out, too, while you're in the area!

When is Hokkaido's melon season, and how can I determine the best time to enjoy my melons?

When is Hokkaido's melon season, and how can I determine the best time to enjoy my melons?

The short answer to the first question is summer. From early summer all the way to early fall, you'll start seeing melons taking center stage in many of the shops in Hokkaido.

The first wholesale auction of a Yubari King crop occurs every year in late May, so this representative Hokkaido melon will appear in consumer storefronts between June to July.

Other brands generally have a longer season than Yubari King. Some may even be on sale from as early as mid-May onwards. The late ones can still be bought around October, too! Furano Melons is one such example. Their sale season lasts from mid-May all the way to early October.

As for how to tell when is the best timing to cut open the melon and enjoy the fruit inside, check the skin first. If it's slightly yellowish and the stalk has dried up, then that's a good time to start eating the melon.

To be doubly sure, if the bottom part of the melon softens when you press it, that's a good indication that the melon is ready to be eaten too!

How much do Hokkaido melons cost?

tkyszk / Shutterstock.com
tkyszk / Shutterstock.com

Melon prices fluctuate depending on factors such as the season and where the melon originated from. However, you can be sure that there's enough variety in the price range to cater to every budget.

For example, Yubari Melons have four tiers: good, excellent, premium, and super-premium. As you would expect, the prices of the melons differ from one tier to the other.

Melons from the most reasonably-priced "good" tier will cost about 4,000 yen (~$40) per melon. In contrast, one melon in the super-premium tier will be about at least 10,000 yen (~$100), and you'll never see one in the bargain bin!

The melons from other producers are quite a bit more affordable in comparison. Furano Melons go for about 1,500 to 2,000 yen (~$15-20) per melon, whereas the Raiden Melons will cost about 1,000 to 2,000 yen for one.

Where can I buy myself a Hokkaido melon?

Where can I buy myself a Hokkaido melon?

The melons are readily available in many places during harvest season.

Direct sales
Many melon farms have on-site facilities selling directly harvested melons, and the experienced shop clerks on hand can help you pick between melons that are ripe enough to eat on the day itself, or something that can last a few more days while you're transiting to your next destination.

Some shops also sell freshly sliced melons for the immediate enjoyment of those who can't wait.

Roadside stations
In districts such as Yubari and Furano, where melons are being cultivated, roadside stations will usually be offering locally-grown produce - including melons - for sale.

The advantage of getting your melons from these roadside stations is that you'll also be able to browse through and buy a huge variety of other local goods as well, such as snacks and candy, making your melon-buying trip just that little bit more interesting than usual.

General marketplaces
What if your trip itinerary doesn't allow you time for a visit to the melon-producing regions of Hokkaido?

In that case, try the major marketplaces, like Sapporo City's Central Wholesale Market or regular fruit and vegetable stores in Nijo Market.

Many shops will also be selling melon slices, which would be the best choice for those wanting to try the melons out right away.

Going to one of these marketplaces will also open up plenty of shopping options, since you'll have access not just to melons, but other local produce like seafood and snacks as well, all of which will be great to bring home as souvenirs!

Department stores
Most department stores have a food section on the basement floors, and you'll be able to find the melons being sold there as well.

However, note that most of the melons here will be of a higher quality and price range. Still, since department stores are usually located in very convenient spots in town, the ability to quickly drop by at the start or end of the day makes it a very appealing option for visitors who may be pressed for time.

All the Hokkaido melons you can eat!?

All the Hokkaido melons you can eat!?

If you're in the mood to eat your fill of all the melons you can get your hands on, consider going to a melon buffet (yes, they do exist!).

Melon Terrace is one such restaurant, located on the second floor of Yubari-shi Agricultural Cooperative Signature Product Center, and one of the most attractive points of the restaurant is the fact that you can eat all the premium Yubari King melons you want here during melon season!

Other than an impressive array of ripe and fragrantly cut melons ready for consumption, you'll also find a few other items on the buffet table, all made with local ingredients.

Enjoying fresh melon slices surrounded by the scenic nature outside of the restaurant's windows will certainly enhance their flavor!

The shop on the first floor has plenty of local specialty products on sale as well, including Yubari King edible souvenirs, in case you find yourself craving for more after that feast above!

Can I ship my Hokkaido melons overseas?

Can I ship my Hokkaido melons overseas?

Yes and no - it depends on the country you intend to ship them to.

Because melons are considered fresh produce, they may not be able to make it past the customs of certain countries with stricter rules on food imports.

The courier service booths in department stores and airports, or one of the post offices in town should be able to help you check if your destination country allows fresh food imports.

Be sure to check first before buying any melons for shipping overseas! Note that you may also be liable for tax and duties, wherever applicable.

Some fruit and vegetable stores in Sapporo City's Central Wholesale Market offer overseas shipping services, so ask a store clerk for more information if that's your plan!

Hokkaido melon-flavored snacks that taste just like the real thing!

Missed melon season? Can't ship a fresh melon home? No problem! You can still get a taste of those famous Hokkaido melons through the many snacks inspired of them that are available all year round.

And don't just think, "But they're just snacks!" There's a whole lineup of products that can rival the original in both flavor and fragrance, and here are a few of our favorite picks!

HORI's Yubari King Pure Jelly
You can't go wrong with HORI's "Yubari King Pure Jelly", one of the most representative Hokkaido melon-flavor snacks around.

Because it uses a generous amount of authentic Yubari King melon juice, each bite into the jelly is almost like biting into the real thing! It helps that the jelly itself has been made to emulate the texture of the melon's flesh as well. Talk about luxury!

HORI's Corn Chocolate Yubari King Flavor
Corn chocolate is another popular local specialty, and it now comes in Yubari King flavor. The tasty corn chocolate bars go so well with the premium melon flavor that you can't stop once you start munching!

Seicomart's Secoma Hokkaido Melon Soft Serve
Hokkaido's home-grown convenience store chain Seicomart has its own original spin on Hokkaido melon-flavored snacks - soft-serve ice cream!

This is a dream combination of local orange-fleshed melon juice with the rich and creamy milk produced by Hokkaido's Toyotomi town. The result is a smooth and sweet melon-flavored ice cream that is meltingly tasty and lusciously enjoyable.

As mentioned, these are just our picks. Take your time to browse through souvenir stores and convenience stores in search of other equally interesting and delicious snacks, and with so much variety available, you'll definitely find the one that suits your palate the most!

If having a taste of one of Hokkaido's internationally renowned melons fresh off the vine is something you've always wanted to do, then be sure to time your next Hokkaido trip to coincide with the melon harvest season!

Text by: Minna no Kotobasha. Translated by Huimin Pan.

*Information in this article is accurate as of April 2021. Visit the official websites for the latest updated information.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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