Japan is a country known for its discipline, grace, tidiness, and quirkiness. You’ll find the country’s wacky appeal in the games, gadgets, television shows, and even food. Perhaps because these traits were developed due to how the country was closed off to the world for so long, only opening in the late 1800’s that it developed such peculiar and specific interests. One of them is their obsession with cultivating the most perfect fruit; whether it’s grapes, an apple, strawberries, or grapefruit, the brand “Sembikiya” is out to give you the best of its kind.
Japan and its Melon Obsession
One star hit among the Japanese is the melon fruit. If you don’t want to believe this, here’s a fact for you: there was a pair of melons that was successfully sold for 27,000 dollars. It’s not just Sembikiya that sells these fruits, some groups hold auctions for them. The one that was sold for 27,240 dollars was a premium Hokkaido cantaloupe.
Then again, you can always get normal melon from the market, it’s not a problem. However, you may find that they’re still a little pricier in Tokyo compared to those sold in the U.S. The reason for this is because of high labor costs of Japan. So, to get that refreshing melon taste from other sources, others turn to one of Japan’s most well-loved drinks: Melon Soda.
Why Is Melon Soda So Popular in Japan?
If you were to arrive in Japan and wonder, “what should I try here that’s different from back home?” in terms of non-alcoholic drinks, Melon Soda is one of your best bets. It’s been around since at least the 50’s, loved by almost every Japanese kid, and it can be described as colored a bright neon green to suggest the color of a green melon. However, that doesn’t necessarily taste exactly like the fruit. Instead, it is a carbonated, mild, sweeter, and possibly a little more processed version of it.
Part of Japanese Culture
Most foreigners would come to think that melon soda should come in at least a light orange or pinkish color – or at least have a different name to it. But melons are a symbol of deliciousness and subtle luxury, and Japan is obsessed with the fruit. So obsessed, in fact, that they have other treats and characters that are shaped like it, or flavored like it, such as ice cream and candy.
Melon bread (in Japan they write it as “メロンパン” and call it “melonpan” or “meronpan”) is a sweet bun that originated from Japan and is made from both cookie dough and normal dough. It has cuts on the top that makes it resemble a rock melon, and can come in different sizes, including “Jumbo”, which can be bought in Asakusa.
When the melonpan was first made, they were called melonpan mostly because they resembled the fruit, and not because they tasted the same. Recently, bakers have added different flavors to melonpan, one of them being an actual melon, while there are other variants as well, such as chocolate, maple syrup, caramel, etcetera for a wider customer appeal.
There are many soft drink companies in Japan that offer their own melon sodas, and even melon flavor varieties. You may find and purchase them from almost any convenience store, or any vending machine selling soda – most especially during the months of June until September.
A List of Melon Soda Brands
For a fizzy drink as popular as Melon Soda, many brands set out to win your favor in which you think tastes the best. So far, the top prime brands are as follows:
- Ramune Melon Soda
- UCC Melon Creamy Soda
Which one tastes the best? Feedback is subjective – that is all up to you.
Fanta Melon Soda – A Staple in Any Must Try List
Fanta is a famous international brand of soda. Its manufacturer is the Coca-Cola Company, and the company originated in Germany. It was introduced in the year 1940 and is related to other brands such as Crush, Mirinda, Slice, Tango, Bluna, and Sunkist. It is now marketed globally and sells more than 100 flavors, which are available depending on the country.
Fanta has had its melon soda flavor around for quite a time; it’s been available since 1988. It has a variety of melon flavors too, such as Melon Cream, which was out in 2006, Fruity Melon since 2005, and Watermelon – which is limited edition. “Japanese watermelon” and “Melon and Orange” also came out in “Fanta world editions” in the summer of 2006, both of which were either retired or later discontinued, along with “Sunny Melon”, which lasted from 2000 to 2002.
There are other countries where Melon Soda by Fanta is sold, though they may or may not be like the trademark Melon Soda taste that can be found around Japan. In Taiwan, they sell “Honeydew Melon”. They used to sell “Melon Frosty” in Atlanta, in the World of Coca-Cola. “Watermelon”, “Watermelon Lime”, and “Lite Watermelon Punch” are all available as Slurpee flavors. Australia and New Zealand both sell “Sour Watermelon” – but it’s considered limited edition in New Zealand.
China and Mongolia also offer Watermelon Fanta. Cyprus offers Watermelon Fanta too, but only in the Summer seasons, as Indonesia used to have a Melon Fanta, but that was discontinued. The Philippines also had its own version of Fanta, but here is some new information: Fanta sponsored “Royal Tru” and sells Royal Tru-Watermelon.
Where to Buy Melon Soda in Australia and Canada – Amazon, Perhaps
Melon Soda, as for how it is known and popular in Japan, is available in neither Canada nor Australia. Instead, your best bet is either to shop online for it (you can try amazon) or go to your Japanese Specialty Store nearby. If you really can’t find anything and need to calm your craving, the closest thing in terms of taste to Melon Soda that may substitute it is Cream Soda. If you’re adventurous enough, you can try making your own Melon Soda. Up next is the recipe.
A Recipe to Recreate Melon Soda – or Make Melon Soda Float
To make melon soda, you’ll need 3 tablespoons of melon syrup, 180 ml of club soda, and some ice cubes. Simply add the ice and melon syrup, slowly add in the club soda, and mix. You may enjoy it plain, but many others prefer as having it like a float, so a little vanilla ice cream is an easy way to upgrade your Melon Soda.
Other Melon Soda Themes – A Tricot Song
Perhaps it’s because the drink is so famous that it becomes part of a song, or of a toy. Tricot has a song called “Melon Soda” – but who is Tricot? The band, which is pronounced as “toriko” in Japan, is a Japanese band that plays math rock. Members include Ikumi Nakajima or “Ikkyu”, Motoko Kida or “Motifour”, Hiromi Sagane or “Hirohiro”, and Yuusuke Yoshida, as Kazutaka Komaki is now an ex-bandmate. They originated from Kyoto, Japan, and have been active as a band from 2010 to present day. Their labels include Bakuretsu, Tower, Topshelf Records, and Big Scary Monsters.
“Melon Soda” is a single of theirs that comes out in their album, “3”. The song starts off with a repetitive bass riff followed by the electric guitar and drum beats, kicking off the relative overall beat of the song. In terms of the lyrics, Melon Soda talks about a person who is sad that someone dumped him or her. This person sets out to search for this being, as the song goes, “I launched a satellite, butting my name on board, I launched it on high,” as an attempt to connect with the loved one.
We see the connection to Melon Soda when the song is followed by the next lyrics; “Like sugary-sweet melon soda / it popped up, then disappeared.” Perhaps the singer is alluding to how his/her efforts to find the person he/she loves is futile and disappears just like how easily a can of sweet, enjoyable melon soda only lasts until the cup is fully consumed.
“Humanity will never die off, will it? / The train will never take me to the moon either / I guess there’s no way I could ever reach it.” Here, the singer seems to say that life goes on and that he/she shouldn’t expect such grand things (like reuniting with her loved one) to happen. Towards the end of the song, the singer alludes again to Melon Soda, as the singer sings, “Those days won’t just suddenly return / I won’t be back there once I awaken / I was dreaming as if in a dream”. In the last line of the song, “It had a sugar-sweet aftertaste, just like those days”, the singer points out that their relationship was so enjoyable and sweet that the singer could even taste it in his/her dreams, reminding him/her of Melon Soda.
Melon Soda in Tamagotchi
A “Tamagotchi” (たまごっち) is a flat, egg-shaped plastic digital toy with three buttons that have a “pet” inside that you must hatch, and then take care of. The toy was created by Bandai’s Aki Maita and Akihiro Yokoi from WiZ. They released the product in the 4th quarter of 1996. The toy became such a sensation that more than 76 million of them were sold all over the world.
Many versions of Tamagotchi were developed, with the first few ones being basic with ways to care for your Tamagotchi, while newer versions were more complicated, and had more features. Today, some of these Tamagotchi is considered a collector’s item – especially the Keitei Kaitsuu Tamagotchi Plus, which is also known as K-Tama. These Tamagotchi were sold exclusively to Japan and could also be interacted with using certain mobiles.
Because the different color combinations and designs are practically limitless, each Tamagotchi was assigned a name to distinguish itself from the rest There’s “Lemon Yellow”, “Silver Blue”, and “Flowers”. Names would get even more specific, such as “Coro Coro Comics” and “Akai Toys R Us”. One could guess that the love for Melon Soda was attributed to the cool greenish color, as one of the names of these rare Tamagotchi that was colored a cool blue-green hue is “Melon Soda”. This Tamagotchi can retail for more than $50 as it is a rare find.
Other Drinks in Japan
Melon soda is only one of Japan’s original drinks. There are many others that you might want to try, such as Ramune (just the lemonade version), Calpis, which is a lactic acid drink, Pocari Sweat, (which has no sweat at all) – a grapefruit-tasting sweet drink with electrolytes, Mitsuya Cider, somewhat a mix of flavors from 7 Up and Ginger Ale, canned coffee, green tea, and Qoo – a tasty fruit drink.