by

A year or two ago, Japanese square shaped watermelon were big in the news. Not only were they easier to ship, but they were more expensive too, and that catches anyone’s attention. Today, I read an article over at Megaijin, that talked about triangular shaped watermelon (even more expensive, but more difficult to ship, I imagine). This sparked my interest, so I decided to dive a little deeper. You’ll be amazed at the weird watermelon-related things I’ve come across!

Cube-Shaped Watermelon

First, let’s take a look at the original strange Japanese watermelon: “The Cube.” This was an expensive solution to the difficulty that people had putting a big round watermelon in their refrigerator (why refrigerate, though, I say eat it all!).

Supposedly, only around a 1000 of these are produced in a year, though I feel like that number may have increased. It’s garnered notoriety amongst the rich (as well as several visiting political figures), and is pretty darn expensive. As you can see above, 2008 version goes for around $119 USD, which is cheap compared to some of the other watermelons we’re going to get into. Who knows how much shipping will cost you. Here’s another photo, from Choo.

I really wonder how the square watermelons taste. Is it just the novelty of the shape that’s selling them, or are they particularly juicy? Either way, if I was Scrooge McDuck I’d definitely replace my simming pool of gold coins.

Oh yeahh, check out those photoshop skillz (sarcasm)

Heart Shaped Watermelon

So now we get a little more expensive, and a lot more useless. I suppose this could shape up (haha, get it?) to be an expensive romantic gift of some sort, but I think buying a week’s worth of baseball tickets would be more fun.

A heart-shaped watermelon will run you around $237 USD, a price that will end up breaking your…you know. I’d suggest saving your money and spending it on UFO catchers.

Pyramid and Triangle Shaped Watermelon

Now, here’s where I get a little confused. Let’s start with the Triangle shaped watermelon, because, apparently, there’s some sort of big difference between triangle and pyramid shapes. Aren’t they just different words for triangle?

These “triangle watermelon” will run you the same as a heart watermelon, around $237 USD. I’m not sure what the purpose of these watermelon are, besides the novelty. Square watermelons, sure, they ship nicer and are easier to put in the fridge. Triangle watermelon? They just seem hard to ship and hard to eat.

Now, how about the pyramid shaped ones? From what I can see, they are almost exactly the same. The only difference? The ridiculous price.

Ever considered paying $950 USD for a watermelon? Well, now’s your chance. They only make a few of these a year (which, I suppose, is why the price is so high?), and they look like crummier versions of the triangle watermelon, at least to my untrained watermelon eye. I dunno, what do you think? They better taste better, that’s for sure.

Face Shaped Watermelon

Here’s the one that you all came for. This is the most ridiculous watermelon I’ve ever seen, and I would never be alone in a dark room with this one.

This face-watermelon will cost you $475 USD, but, I mean, c’mon, it’s a face! It even has glasses on and a big smile, so you feel good when you eat through half your month’s rent. It’s a smile that says…”it’s okay, I still love you…even though you’re a dumb knee-biter for buying me.”

Looks like this one has a Hitler mustache!

How are these Watermelon Made?

Well, the face one is a secret process, apparently. Though it follows the same basic rules as the others. All they do is put a glass / plastic container around the small, baby watermelon, and it grows into the shape it’s put into. Cube shaped is put into a cube container, triangle into a triangle container, etc. They  do something extra fancy with the Hitler face though, but they aren’t willing to taddle their secrets.

If you’d like to get one of these watermelon for yourself, you can actually get them shipped to you overseas (maybe). Check out Rakuten’s Art Suika page and look for the English section somewhere in the middle. You might be able to order your own overpriced watermelon if you email them.

Vocab for this Article

Something I thought I’d try to do, since this is a website about learning Japanese culture and language. We’re going to include some vocabulary at the end of every news / culture related article to give you a chance to sponge some Japanese vocabulary as well. I mean, why not, right?

スイカ (suika)
Watermelon

果物 (Kudamono)
Fruit

三角 (Sankaku)
Triangle

四角 (shikaku)
Square

  • http://kulp.ch/ Darren Kulp

    Pyramids have n-sided bases (often quadrilateral), while the “triangle” ones above are tetrahedra and are limited to triangular bases. That little extra bit of abstraction is still pricey ….

  • http://flickr.com/photos/hoolan/ rob

    Nothing says class or wealth better than a face shaped watermelon.

    “I’m afraid I cant spare you any change but come…come…look how I’ve wasted it”

  • http://stshores24.com stshores24

    All the stupid things people are willing to make money on… [shakes head]

  • http://stshores24.com stshores24

    ‘Spend’ money on, I meant, but both verbs apply.

  • http://www.tofugu.com Viet

    Yep… Koichi your description just made me shake my head.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    c’mmonnnn, they’re like the same thing! you crazy non-liberal arts studies majors you…

  • emiko

    so confused . . . why is it they need heart shaped watermelons? new valentine idea?

  • http://twitter.com/tepidRAiN xixi

    er… I wouldn’t eat the face-shaped watermelon D:
    those bulging eyes/glasses don’t look very tasty!!

  • Maciel

    i like the vocab for this article lol
    and ill get a a picture of a heart watermelon and send it to my gf and tell her when im rich ill get her one of them lol

    and i like ur photoshop skillz haha it looks good with the rest of the picture

  • Maciel

    I Agree With Koichi, they look the same and wouldn’t really make much of a difference

  • http://www.tofugu.com Viet

    They don’t look the same :) Better be corrected than be ignorant about it, I say.

  • yza

    Koichi has been eating too much watermelon this summer. XD :P

    I love the heart and sqaure shaped watermelons. wee!

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    They’re still both triangles, though, right? (serious question, I don’t know)

    $750 more for one extra side on my 3-d triangle is pretty tough on the wallet.

  • http://www.myjapanesepage.com Terin Lyr D’Amico

    Japanese are some real creative people. It’s another example of why I love Japan. Some time ago, I saw a news item on a Japanese farmer that specialized in making very large soybeans. He would handpick soybean pods of the plant leaving a very specific number left. With less soybean pods for the plant to grow, they pods were humongous.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    I don’t know if I’d say Japanese are real creative people. I’d say…it’s very polar. Some people are amazingly creative, and the other portion of Japan is very uncreative. That’s one of the current supposed “crisis’s” right now…people aren’t creative enough. Not necessarily a bad thing, I say. That’s why they can do math, and America can’t.

    Interesting story about the soybeans! Makes me want to have soy bean soup.

  • http://www.myspace.com/heatlessangel heartlessangel

    I think my fav part in this article is the vocab yeah ! ( does the blues clues dance then returns) ah hem because as my mother always told me learning is fun ! unless your tryin to learn Japanese that is lol jk jk its fun when you get it and when you dnt you just gotta work harder I tell myself come on if it was easy it wouldn’t be Japanese ok back to work thanks a bunch though ! nice article btw.

  • http://www.myspace.com/heatlessangel heartlessangel

    dnt let him lie to you the photo shop skills are laking but the concept priceless bringing back the old school yet sadly it scares me to think that this is old school makes me feel old lol

  • http://www.myspace.com/heatlessangel heartlessangel

    ummm tomato tamoto lol

  • http://www.tofugu.com Viet

    No :) A triangle is a plane with three vertices. Maybe playing all that Jan-ken-pon during Geometry class wasn’t such a good idea.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    uhhhhh fine – then, I don’t see much of a difference between a pyramid and a tetrahedral. Not saying there *isn’t* a difference, but the difference is so minimal, that a ~$750 difference isn’t justified, though, I suppose my eye isn’t as “trained” as yours (i.e., I sucked at geometry), but that price difference is ree-dee-kyu-lous.

  • JackTamaki

    Yikes. As if Japan didn’t already have enough over-priced fruit.

  • http://www.tofugu.com Viet

    The pyramid you are thinking of has 5 surfaces, one of which is square, rest being triangular. Tetrahedra has 4 surfaces, with all bases being triangular. A triangle is just single surface. So… a tetrahedra has one extra side or 25% more than a tetrahedral. I hate using that example, but it’s to illustrate that the difference isn’t ‘so minimal’. And then there is a question about volume/capacity of the shapes, something I don’t even want to get into.

    The price difference for the watermelons isn’t something I can answer. It could be the method of production justify the pricing. The environment that it takes to achieve the shape is another factor. Do you need equipment to build the ideal environment? There is also the question on what is the success rate of achieving the shape. How many watermelons do you need to grow before you get one that is in the shape you want? Growing specialize watermelons cost money, so what do you do with all the duds that you wasted money on? The land you are growing in isn’t cheap also. Would you trade off growing 20 regular shape watermelons (and price it at regular price) to grow 1 pyramid shape (and price it higher) and throw out the 5/10/15 defects? For a country that values the shape of the watermelon, I think it’ll be hard to fetch a decent return on ugly watermelon. Then you have to consider the demand for such a shape. Just saying something simple such as “just having one extra side” to explain the cost increase, is well… isn’t that simple. The cost increase is beyond geometry, it is all economics, from production to consumer demand. You say it isn’t justified. I say it is. It is because people are WILLING to pay for it.

    Having said all of that, I think it is fairly obvious that the watermelon shapes are a novelty and this plays a big role in the price.

    And kids… This is what college does to you.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Not saying your wrong – I think you’re right. There’s more to it than just another side to the watermelon, you’re right, I spoke too soon. Still, when it comes to these watermelons, there’s a lot of gray area / stupid rich people involved into the equation, and there’s just no way the real value of one of these watermelons justifies its $1000 price tag.

    Here’s what it says on the site about the pyramid watermelon:

    1. The pyramids are made to order, and only 10-20 get ordered every year. (low supply? High demand? Hard to say, since they are made to order). Tetrahedral watermelon ARE on a supply basis, yet they are less expensive. Even if some watermelon did get deformed and weren’t perfect in the process, I think the $1000 fee for a pyramid shaped watermelon will offset the cost of however many watermelon don’t make it past a “perfection inspection.” How much does it cost to grow a watermelon? Considering most watermelon are sold for under $10 (I’m guessing, here), you’d have to mess up a lot of watermelon.

    2. They don’t taste good and are only for looks. Basically, it’s a temporary decoration that lasts 1-3 months. I really feel like the pyramid watermelon are like the “I am rich” app on the iPhone (ha! Same price!). There might be a tiny market of people willing to pay for it (though, for “I am rich” it’s mostly people who accidentally bought it), but I still don’t think the price properly conveys it’s actual value. Sure, they put a price on it, and that can be considered the market value – but how do you come up with it’s real value when you can’t calculate supply and demand? I feel like the profit on one of these watermelon is tremendous. It’s tough because they do it only by order, and there doesn’t seem to be a limit on the orders – though there *is* a limit on tetrahedral watermelon, and the price is much much lower. I don’t get it. Oh wait, I do, it’s Japan, and they do this all the time. This watermelon is just a status symbol, and I suppose that has value (or rather, the price dictates that it is a status symbol), but I doubt that one of these watermelons takes even half the selling price to make. I’m sure they tap their Mr. Burns fingers together when they get an order for one of these, and wonder how many more people out there are willing to order one of their prize watermelons. It’s not that hard to make these ones – the face ones, yes, those mess up sometimes – but the pyramids? Much easier to make. Face ones are the hardest, they say, which makes even less sense, since it’s half the price.

    Anyways, that was a really long round-about way of me saying that yes, you’re right, but I still don’t think the price of it is justified. On one hand, some people pay for it, yes, but I still don’t think the profit margin properly represents the actual value of the pyramid watermelon. But, you’re right, there are some people out there willing to pay for the novelty…dirty filthy rich people. It’s so much like Japan to do something like this though, and charge ridiculous amounts of money on it AND get away with it without anyone noticing. There are so many times in Japan where something is bought for wayyy more than it’s actual value – I suppose that’s just how things work over there sometimes – Always someone who’s willing to pay for something, ESPECIALLY if it’s ridiculous. I still don’t buy that the actual value of the watermelon is anywhere near the selling price of it, though, no matter how much they mess up (and I don’t think they mess up all that much, though I’m sure there are 5-10 screw ups for every 1 good one).

    They should be giving me the watermelon money instead – I’ll even dance. I feel like investing in that is just as poor of a decision as investing in a watermelon.

    I think we were arguing two different things. I don’t think the actual value parallels the price of the watermelon, and you think the price of the watermelon is justified because people are willing to buy it…so, I suppose I agree with you on that? God, the 10-20 people a year who buy them…I’d like to meet these people. They seem…rich…and willing to part with their money quickly :)

  • Leana

    I have been reading English language Japanese news sights for over a year now and I am still perplexed as to why melons are so outrageously expensive in Japan, Hitler face or not. I know this isn’t 100% on topic but it is something that has always confused me! Does anyone know?

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    It’s like viet says. Because there’s people out there willing to spend
    money on it, there will be people willing to spend it for that much
    money. It doesn’t really make sense, perse, but it also makes perfect
    sense. Japan seems to do this more than most places, though, I could
    be crazy.

  • http://www.tofugu.com Viet

    I’ll concede on the defect argument, but why does it even matter the profit margin is way about the actual market value? Is it ridiculous? Yes. But it can be done thanks to capitalism. The moment you cap the price, then that is out the door.

    I don’t disagree on the assertion that actual value and the going price don’t parallel with each other.

    Why do we even care how people spend the money they earn/have? Who dictates whats is waste and what isn’t? (Communists?) It may be a waste of money in the eyes of you and myself, but to others it holds value. We may think the value is superficial, but again, it’s their money.

    This phenomenon isn’t unique to Japan. Westerners pay way above costs for liquor and wine. Some alcohol are only made in certain quantities, just like these watermelons. How about $200+ jeans? The materials certainly don’t justify the cost. And certainly the third world workers that put it together don’t justify it. A small population consume these goods, and this is exactly the same case with Japan.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    suuppper skinny.
    yeah, I’ll go with what you said. I’m only arguing actual price – everything else is, like you said, just my opinion on the matter. Like, for example, this guy’s an idiot for spending money on these grapes:

    http://www.jamaipanese.com/index.php?itemid=709

    Mostly, I Just want his money instead…

    I wonder how much skinnier these will get, or if this is the max skinny

  • jinaners

    The face one looks a bit too scary to eat… I wonder if they actually taste good.

  • http://www.otakuinternational.com BZou

    Damn….And I thought Square watermelons were too expensive…

    I am quite surprised that the Pyramid ones (Which looks more like a Hersheys Kiss to me) cost more than the Face one. I mean if you go by coolness, the face owns, why is it cheaper lol?

  • http://www.myjapanesepage.com Terin Lyr D'Amico

    And every year, Japan has a festival in which they celebrate a certain male organ (sort of a fertility ritual/ceremony). It’s only a matter of time when they’re making phallus shaped watermellon for the occasion.

  • http://x-aichaku.blogspot.com Mai

    I highly doubt they would ship the watermelon over though. Probably caution over spread of foreign germs/diseases. Plus its so fragilee x__x;;

    Man~ I would never pay that much for watermelon. Paying $15 for a watermelon much bigger than those is bad enough XD.

  • John P

    By far, the most heated, in depth discussion about pyramid/triangle shaped watermelons available on the internet.

  • http://www.luiyuming.com astrorainfall

    A Japanese friend told me that these weirdly shaped watermelons don’t taste good. I think it’s one of those fun but useless “inventions” the Japanese are into creating. The whole spirit behind it is so Japanese — it’s being high tech and kooky for the hell of it.

  • St

    Skinneee…!

  • St

    ….eeeee….!!!!!

  • St

    ..ee..*splat!*

  • St

    I wonder what it’s like when you’ve finished eating a 52.500円 watermelon. Sort of like having uncokred a 1900 Château Pétrus? Or like eating the world’s smallest bowl of ramen and finding yourself still hungry.

  • St

    See, it just keeps shrinking and shrinking, like the purchasing power of the dollar.

  • http://youtube.com/ch1ka ch1ka

    Hmm… maybe these watermelons grow in a box type thing which is moulded in the shape of a triangle, heart etc. and as the watermelon grows it fills out the space and boom! you have a face on a melon!
    or was this an obvious thing? and im really late!? lol

  • peppermintkitty87

    Hahaha! My boyfriend said that they should make one of those watermelons into a naked lady sculpture and sell it for $10,000.00! lmao ^^

  • http://www.tofugu.com Viet

    I think that was given.

  • St

    bump

  • emiko

    omg . . . totally off topic, but the other day i was talking with one of my friends from my japanese class and i mentioned the watermelon thing . . . this is how the conversation went:

    her: omg! that’s so funny!

    me: i know! i read it on this blog called ‘tofugu’

    her: tofugu? omg! i watch koichis’ vidoes all the time!

    me: are you serious? that is so cool

    me and her at the same time: dont’ you love his panda hat?

    . . . no lie, that was the exact conversation. everyone around us was totally confused, but i personally thought that it was cool . . . keep up the good work

  • emiko

    yup!

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    ha! That’s awesome!

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    yeah – some of them are made specifically for decoration

  • emiko

    i know!

  • David

    I understood less than half of that lol. (commenting just to see if it’ll get any skinnier)

  • Eevee

    Those are pretty freaking cool. >.>
    I think the square one looks the coolest, besides the whole convenience part. Why aren’t there any square fruits/veggies anyways?
    Just another example of how the Japanese use their brilliant minds to bring us something useful… but way too expensive.

  • DeeLeigh

    Umm…my head is spinning from all of that! WOW! Could this be any skinnier?!?

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    alllll right people. no more commenting to see if it gets skinnier. It does, and then the text starts overlapping itself, and things might break.

  • Mrwindupbird

    Gotta agree with the you there. The panda hat is the greatest hat I’ve come across in years!

  • St

    OK koichi, sorry if it came across as if we (I) were trying to push your buttons earlier.

  • Sougen02

    Hah i remember my friend wrote a report on the cube shaped watermelons! xD
    it was back in May or so.

  • Sougen02

    That’s funny because I have this frind I talk to on Ustream.tv and she was like… hey is that you who comments on Tofugu?
    i had no idea she came here too! xD

    (Haley, if your reading this… HI! =P )

  • emiko

    it’s times like this that i feel like i can relate to the ‘it’s a small world’ song . . . but then it gets stuck in my head

  • emiko

    i know! and i have seen quite a few panda hats too! his is definitely the best so far!

  • Fitzy

    lol

    we’re
    shaping the
    T
    E
    X
    T
    should it
    also be
    expensive
    now?

  • http://www.myspace.com/ravishing_peach little_bee

    I want one shaped like a kitty! Or a bus! Oooh, wait!!! I want one shaped like a pumpkin!!!!!
    ^-^

    Really love the idea of listing the vocab from the article. Fun AND educational, rock on, Koichi!

  • http://youtube.com/profile?user=chokudori クリス

    I remember watching a segment of Utaban that featured items that could possibly be “real” or not. The heart shape watermelon was one of the featured items along with the pocket piano and the butler service robot.

    Expensive as it is, the heart shaped watermelon would be a nice touch to a romantic dinner. Then again, you can always buy a regular watermelon and cut it into a shape of a heart (-_-)'

    With all this talk about watermelons, here's something that a few Japanese are taking up as a hobby, watermelon carving: http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=HGoppZawRcc

  • The_Meganator

    Haha! Love it!
    Two words… Penis Watermelon!

    Somebody had to go there so I did! XD

  • Kyo

    now only if they would apply that technique to pumpkins for Halloween.

    But seriously S100 to $1000 for a cube or triangle shaped watermelon -_- that is so silly, but you got people buying shirts and pants that cost $150 to $200 a pair (coughbapecough)

    kool process, but you have to fairly rich to buy one of them to EAT.

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  • altonet

    Lol! That's cool, though I probably won't buy a $150 watermelon any time soon ^_____^

  • katie

    hmmm i would love to get some plexiglass and make my own watermelon cube molds…. i bet if i sold them for 20-30$ at the farmers market i could make a bundle.. i wonder if it would do the same thing with pumpkins.. and i bet those plastic things would keep the evil squirrels from eating my melons.. i certainly wouldnt pay hundreds of dollars for a melon.. maybe 15$ for a face one..

  • http://mobiletimes.in indian smartphones

    These are all just to make money..I can't agree with the pyramid watermelon..That is not correct what you mention above..
    UFO Pants

  • gayathrib83

    Watermelons like Japanese face really looks amazing.. Wondering, why make it so difficult to grows these watermelons and buy it at a high price. Anyway, we are going to eat that. But, these watermelons, are ones like made for showcases.. But, really great effort, who discovered this..

    Hosting

  • anchor

    Japanese face water melons looks good but i dont think we could eat it, because of its ugly face it could only be kept for showcase. Where as others like heart shape and pyramid shape looks awsome.

  • http://www.google.coml resolve

    These watelmellons are simply superb… We can afford to but at any price they keep in the market..

  • annonumus

    These are looking very intresting … I love to have one of of them..

    Yahoo

  • http://www.shopnotebookbatteries.com laptop batteries

    A few of rectangular melons had been brought to my country. They cost ~50$ and we had bought one for my grandfather. Their taste is the same as normal melon's but they're much more interesting to eat.
    laptop batteries

  • http://crownz.org backlinks

    The shapes of these fruits are definitely attractive and nice marketing strategy too. The pick of the list is Heart Shaped Watermelon, but really upset with the sliced piece wrapped with plastic cover. Some has to put a break to this and focus on quality.

  • http://crownz.org backlinks

    The shapes of these fruits are definitely attractive and nice marketing strategy too. The pick of the list is Heart Shaped Watermelon, but really upset with the sliced piece wrapped with plastic cover. Some has to put a break to this and focus on quality.

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  • Caitlin G

    cool i like the heart & face shapes

  • http://hi.baidu.com/yishiym123 TwoBlue

    'Spend' money on, I meant, but both verbs apply.

  • http://hi.baidu.com/yishiym123 TwoBlue

    'Spend' money on, I meant, but both verbs apply.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/anoccomir Alwin Oz

    awesome article :)

  • Mnapk

    What an idea.

  • PAD

    People may think it is grazy but it adds lots of fun in life – one has to pay a prize for some creative work …if you like fund afford for it buy , else appreciate the creativity

  • SEXY CHICK

    its unlikely that it’ll be used as decorations, koichi, cuz that would bring a lot of bugs in your house.

  • eazydoesit

    If you read more the square shaped watermelon aren’t even ripe inside, they have to harvest before they are done to keep the shape….why not just put it in a bigger boxer to let it grow longer.