With many grocery stores and supermarkets importing fruits and vegetables from Japan, it has become easier to sample and purchase Japanese fruits. While some Japanese fruits are very similar to those in America, others are unique, strange, or extremely expensive.
In Japan, fruits are often given as gifts and as a showing of respect. They can also act as an offers on home altars to pay homage to their Gods. If you get the chance, you should try the following seven Japanese fruits for a flavorful, enticing, and cultural culinary experience.
This Japanese pear first distinguishes itself from other pairs by its noticeable round shape, as opposed to the Western tear-drop shape pears. Nashi pear is also bigger than its Western counterparts, as well as crispier, but with a lighter flavor. The skin of the Japanese pear is slightly rougher but edible, although many in Japan prefer to peel the fruit before consuming it.
You can often find nashi pears in many supermarkets, especially at Asian groceries. They are in season during late summer through early fall. If you enjoy pears, you’ll want to try this tasty Japanese fruit.
While nashi has been cultivated for centuries, Kyoho grapes have only been in production since the early 1900s when developed by crossing a European and American breed of grape. The result is an unusually large grape, almost the size of a small plum.
The grapes exhibit a striking deep purple color and have a mild, sweet, but especially juicy grape flavor. People usually peel and eat kyoho grapes, but the skin is edible. They are a famous fruit in Japan, and high-quality Kyoho grapes can be a little expensive. They are delicious to enjoy on their own or as a beautiful accompaniment or ingredient in cakes, parfaits, and other desserts.
Also known as Satsuma mandarin, the mikan is the most popular type of orange in Japan. They are quite easy to peel and seedless, making them easy to eat. Mikan oranges are found in supermarkets all over the United States, where they are sold as mandarin oranges.
A particular hybrid of the mikan, the dekopon is also seedless and sweet, and bear a distinctive bump at the top of the rind.
These Japanese peaches appear a bit larger than Western peaches. Cultivated in Japan for over 2,000 years, the peaches are also softer and very juicy. In fact, they are so juicy that they are usually peeled and sliced before consuming them to avoid a juicy mess running over your face, hands, and clothing.
Momo peaches are in season during the summer. Although you can purchase regular quality Japanese peaches at an affordable price, some varieties are cultivated to be more luxurious and fetch a much higher price.
While Japan has many cherry trees, only a few are cultivated for their fruit. One of these is the Satonishiki, which grows bright red cherries at the beginning of summer. These delicious cherries can be a luxury and a specialty fruits of the Yamagata prefecture. They exhibit refreshing juiciness and sweetness. Some even consider them as the “Kings of Cherries” in Japan.
Weirdly Expensive Fruits
While some of the above fruits can be very expensive if some are cultivated to be of the highest quality, there are a few other Japanese fruits that are particularly expensive. They are not only costly but also quite strange to behold, at least according to Western standards. These include the rare white strawberry, and melons of various types.
There are a few varieties of these white fruits that only have a slight pinkish tinge at times. The most popular type is the White Jewel strawberry, which is slightly bigger, softer, and sweeter than regular strawberries. Each of the different varieties of white strawberries has distinctively different flavors, so many in Japan have their personal favorites.
However, these strawberries aren’t cheap. There is an intensive and difficult growing process involved in producing them, resulting in a cost of approximately $10+ for a single strawberry. A package can fetch $40, and one particular variety, the Kokota, can even go for $22 for each strawberry, which comes in its individual package.
Melons are considered luxury items in Japan and are often given as gifts. The most expensive and famous melon in Japan is the Yubari King melon, which is a type of cantaloupe. The perfect Yubari King melons can go for as expensive as $45,000 at auction! Crown melons, another type of cantaloupe, are a bit more affordable — only $200 each. These melons can be great gifts in Japan.
You may have also seen articles about the square watermelons — watermelons specifically in the shape of a cube. These are also a good choice as gifts and can cost around $100.