One of the best things about summertime in Japan is the fruit. Big (and I mean BIG) juicy peaches, tart cherries, and the abundance of melons of all varieties. Watermelons are a big product in Ueki, a small town near my former home of Kumamoto, but the town of Obanazawa in Yamagata Prefecture is also a major producer of the fruit.
When my family and I were in Tohoku last summer, we came across numerous road side stands around the Ginzan Onsen area selling whole and sliced local watermelons. So it was really no surprise that the local manhole cover sported this picture:
What was interesting to find out was that Yamagata’s “extreme” temperature difference between day and night caused the region to produce a fruit that is notably sweeter than watermelons grown elsewhere. And, being a much-touted regional product, you can find watermelon everything in Yamagata – juice, soft drinks, ice cream and even other foods made with watermelon extract.