Refreshing and nutritious, Japanese fruits may be unlike those you’ve tried before. They’re not easily found in local stores, so you might have to venture further to find where they’re on sale.
If you’ve been to Japan, you’re likely to have seen a lot of Japanese fruits on market stalls. Otherwise, some of the most popular Japanese fruits may still be completely new to you. You might also be aware of the Japanese fruit sandwich, with fresh fruit and whipped cream between bread – an extremely popular snack to try.Refreshing and nutritious, Japanese fruits may be unlike those you've tried before.
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Is Japanese fruit expensive fruit?
If you live in Japan, common Japanese fruits are affordable and easy to find. If they need to be imported and they’re harder to find, the prices will be a lot higher. You’ll pay a premium for Japanese fruits, even if you can find them locally. Some might be almost impossible to find, without getting a flight to Japan.
Some other factors might also increase the price of Japanese fruits. Some Japanese fruits need to be grown in very specific conditions, like apples that can’t easily grow in the Japanese climate and novelty-shaped fruits that must be grown within plastic molds. The Japanese take their fruit-growing very seriously, and some types of seasonal fruit must be very carefully tended in a time-consuming way. Some fruits, in order to be sold, must also receive certification.
Some types of Japanese fruits can only be grown in very specific locations. The same fruits grown elsewhere would not be able to use the same names, and people will pay a lot to purchase the right fruit from the right location.
Japanese Citrus Fruit Benefits
Some types of Japanese citrus fruit are very popular for good reason. They can be amongst the most flavorful and aromatic citrus fruits in the world. Japanese citrus fruits can grow well in very sunny locations, though they actually do very well in shaded areas as long as the soil’s not too wet.
As Japanese citrus fruits have grown in popularity, they’ve been nurtured in new locations to grow in places other than Japan. The plans can grow well in Australia and warmer parts of Europe, but need to be potted if the soil quality is not consistent. As a result, it’s still the case that the best of these fruits come from East Asia.
10 of the Most Popular Japanese Fruits
Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit. It has a very strong tart, sour and slightly spicy flavor.
The yuzu is a hybrid of the Mandarin and the Ichang papeda, though this very tangy fruit also tastes a bit like a watermelon.
The yuzu is yellow when ripe, with a very bumpy rind that’s a popular cooking ingredient. This is because the yuzu keeps its tart flavor even at high temperatures.
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2. Square Watermelon
Though they’re very expensive, square watermelons are not particularly special. They’re simply ordinary watermelons, manipulated to grow in the shape of a cube. The flavor is as you’d expect, and the cubed shape is just for display.
Despite their high price, square watermelons are unlikely to be worth your money. If you want to enjoy a watermelon snack, you should stick to the usual shape. Square watermelons are often harvested too early, after being grown in their cube-shaped molds, so they won’t fully ripen.
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3. Kyoho Grapes
Almost black in color, Kyoho grapes are large and very juicy. These very sweet grapes were created in Japan, but are now grown in other locations including California. As a result, you’re very likely to find these at local specialty markets.
The skin of a Kyoho grape is sour. Inside, the flavor is almost artificial – like grape jelly or grape flavored candy.
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One of the more well-known popular Japanese fruits, the persimmon is a juicy, fleshy fruit that has a star shape in its center. It can be enjoyed fresh, baked or dehydrated. You can eat the skin, but many people just eat the flesh inside the fruit, or eat dried persimmon as a high-nutrient snack. It has a soft plum-like texture when fresh and a very sweet taste.
The Japanese persimmon is an excellent source of vitamins, potassium and fiber. However, as this fruit contains many tannins it should not be eaten on an empty stomach.
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5. Fuji Apple
Cultivated at the Tohoku Research Station in Fujisaki, as a cross between the Red Delicious and Virginia Ralls Janet varieties of apple, the Fuji apple has very dense flesh with a high sugar content. Apples don’t grow easily in the Japanese climate, so these apples must be grown in specific environments where they’re protected and controlled.
Fuji apples taste very refreshing and juicy. They take a long time to reach their ripened state, but can also stay fresh for a long time once pulled from the tree.
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6. Nashi Pear
The Nashi pear is also known more simply as the Asian pear. It has the crunchy texture of an apple and is round like an apple, but the sweet and juicy flavor is very distinctly pear. This is also a fruit that contains a lot of juice, perfect for a warm summer day.
The Nashi pear is very delicate. Its brown and yellow skin can bruise very easily, because of the fruit’s high water content.
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7. Yubari Melon
Also known as the Yubari King, the Yubari Melon can only be grown in greenhouses in Yūbari. These sweet melons are region-specific, and melons grown elsewhere cannot use the Yubari name.
Yubari melons have a very sweet taste. The appearance is as important as the taste, so the farmers work hard to create the perfect growing conditions for these fruits. The melons, when grown, are carefully polished and are often given as gifts in Japan, complete with silk-lined presentation boxes.
8. White Strawberry
Many different types of strawberry are popular in Japan, but the most notable are the white strawberries. Grown in minimal sunlight, these strawberries never develop their recognizable red color. Growing techniques have been carefully developed, though still some farmers only succeed with about 10% of their crops.
When eaten, a Japanese strawberry has a slightly tropical taste before the expected sweet flavor comes through.
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9. Ruby Roman Grape
Ruby Roman grapes are large grapes grown in the Ishikawa Prefecture. First sold in 2008, these grapes undergo strict quality checks and have certification seals. For a Ruby Roman grape to be sold, it must be at least 18% sugar and at least 20g in weight.
Ruby Roman grapes are very rare. Some years, no grapes receive the correct certification.
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10. Japanese Peach
In Japanese culture, peaches are considered to ward off evil and promote good health. As such an important fruit, Japanese peaches are usually grown with a lot of care and careful attention. The resulting fruits are large, very soft, light in color and extremely juicy.
Japanese peaches are grown in many regions, though central Japan is the best place because of the warm and sunny climate. Varieties to try include the Shimizu White Peach, the Hakuhou Peach and the Akatsuki Peach, all with tender almost-white flesh and soft pink-colored skin.
Just for fun, here is a Japanese Peach Boy, storybook too.
Have you tried Japanese fruits?
Would you pay a high price for Japanese fruits, grown with such care and attention? Have you ever eaten Japanese fruits, and do you think a piece of luxury fruit could be worth the high price tag attached? Comment below with your thoughts about the best and most popular Japanese fruits.