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  • Welcome to Shikoku on one of the hottest days of the summer!

  • Japan is always trying to find ways to improve life.

  • Take it to another level!

  • That could include Technology, Accomodation,

  • Mascots, Entertainment

  • Even food.

  • This time I'm in Zentsuji in Kagawa Prefecture

  • to try a favorite food of mine that has evolved

  • to that next level,

  • The square watermelon of Zentsuji

  • Before we head to the farm and warehouse,

  • Let's take a look at those watermelons on sale in Tokyo

  • The square watermelon is like a piece of treasure,

  • reflected in its shape and its price

  • which can be as high as this even more abroad.

  • When you have a square watermelon, you want to show it off.

  • Sometimes they're not even for sale.

  • When they are, they are around 18 to 20,000 yen in Tokyo.

  • This famous fruit stand in Shinjuku,

  • always has some unique fruit on sale.

  • And there it is,

  • for 20,000 yen.

  • What makes these watermelons so valuable?

  • Here are some facts:

  • They can last up until 6 months

  • because they are harvested unriped.

  • They are ornamental.

  • meant for display, not dessert.

  • Zentsuji grows only 200 of them a year,

  • so they're rare

  • The average price is 10,000 to 20,000 yen each.

  • although its rarity can affect the market price.

  • and they are made, only in Zentsuji,

  • legally.

  • So where is Zentsuji?

  • We have to travel to the smallest of Japan's 4 main islands.

  • Shikoku

  • Just outside the City of Takamatsu lies Zentsuji

  • in Kagawa prefecture.

  • Situated on the 88 temple Shikoku pilgrimage route.

  • Population 34,000 people.

  • It's a green area surrounded by hills.

  • and the square watermelons are grown right down there.

  • Zentsuji isn't Kyoto or Tokyo

  • but it sure has some things to see and do.

  • It's a peaceful city.

  • That's Zentsuji temple over there.

  • Founded in 813.

  • The 5 story pagoda is listed as an

  • important cultural property of Japan.

  • It sure looks it.

  • There is a basement in the temple

  • where you can walk in the dark.

  • Great for clearing your mind

  • until you have to feel your way out.

  • Nearby is a small temple dedicated to child bearing

  • and breast feeding

  • Kagawa has some of the best Udon noodles in japan.

  • and Zentsuji is loaded with self - serve Sanuki Udon restaurants.

  • Cool down from your pilgrimage with some gold icecream.

  • Want something harder?

  • Try Katapan.

  • 120 years of history.

  • This confectionary shop

  • boasts the hardest bread in the world.

  • The square watermelon adventure starts in the watermelon field

  • where Yamashita-san shows me how they are grown.

  • Not all of the watermelons here are grown into cubes.

  • It doesn't take long before you find one.

  • When a watermelon gets to a size,

  • the best ones are put into the box

  • which the farmers have been using for many years

  • You can see the stem popping out

  • and the box stabilized on a wooden plank.

  • Balance and placement are critical.

  • Here's the stem on the outside.

  • It's not easy to make a square watermelon,

  • New farmers have a tough time of it.

  • Zentsuji normally grows 200 annually.

  • but on bad years, it can yield as few as 70.

  • If not beautiful, not for sale.

  • Wow... Do your best.

  • Each one has to be perfect.

  • Every year, Zentsuji farmers get a little better at making them.

  • Thanks.

  • They evolve.

  • The finished square watermelons are taken

  • to a cooperative warehouse for packaging.

  • and distributed typically starting at the end of June.

  • This was the second harvest day in July

  • so yields were lower

  • Zentsuji farmers do all the packaging themselves.

  • All of them seniors with more energy

  • than those half their age.

  • The sticker is the official seal for the square watermelon.

  • A registered trademark.

  • The square watermelon fits perfectly in the 18 cm box.

  • A guide for decorating it with a ribbon is enclosed.

  • When completed, it looks like this.

  • A fork lift carries each farmers' watermelons

  • to be taped up.

  • Today's square watermelon processing took just a little over an hour

  • The watermelons are stored in this chilled warehouse

  • which reminded me of a bank vault.

  • These watermelons have a lot of value.

  • 3, 4, 5 times more than a normal watermelon.

  • A happy Bon Voyage to those beautiful green cubes.

  • Destination, somewhere else.

  • What's the deal with these square watermelons?

  • I asked Yamashita-san for the story

  • It was his father who originally tried this out

  • over 45 years ago

  • When he couldn't manage the square watermelon,

  • and no one at the local committee raised their hand to take over,

  • his son took responsibility,

  • continuing his father's legacy.

  • Now they're world famous,

  • and a big part of Zentsuji identity.

  • Why don't people eat square watermelons?

  • The stripes on this watermelon are not straight.

  • so it's perfect for a test

  • Yamashita-san's wife goes for a center cut

  • Let's see what's inside.

  • It's only partially pink.

  • The orange and yellow part exposed as unriped.

  • It lies flat on the cutting board.

  • The Yamashitas don't seem impressed with the taste.

  • but that's to be expected

  • I just can't get over the angle.

  • right here.

  • The fact that it's square. You never see anything...

  • like this.

  • Time for a quick taste test

  • It's not sweet,

  • It's not...it's not bad

  • It tastes,

  • Waterly....kind of like a...ah...

  • a squash.

  • Certainly not sweet

  • and definitely not like any watermelon I've ever tasted before

  • but it's pretty amazing to look at.

  • isn't it?

  • The Japanese square watermelon

  • certainly is creative and unique

  • But there is more to it than that

  • What we see as food, can also be seen as art,

  • certainly nothing new in Japan

  • where everyday items always find a way to evolve

  • to the next level

  • and in Zentsuji, that means these

  • Beautiful, and very much worth it if you have the cash,

  • square watermelons

Welcome to Shikoku on one of the hottest days of the summer!

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B1 watermelon square temple yen sale warehouse

Square Watermelon Farming ★ ONLY in JAPAN

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    姚易辰 posted on 2017/04/17
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