Things I don’t Understand about Japan: Melon Soda


Japanese melon soda

What is melon soda?

Melon soda is exactly what it sounds like. Except not at all, because it doesn’t actually taste like melon. When people visit me in Tokyo, I always try to get them to try it.

“What should I get to drink?”

“Melon soda. Definitely melon soda.”

“… but I don’t like melon…”

“Oh, it doesn’t taste like melon. Just try it.”

“If it doesn’t taste like melon, what does it taste like?”

“Happiness. Just try it.”

(After the order melon soda)

“But, but it’s GREEN.”

“Don’t worry, just try it.

“But it’s like seriously, florescent green!!”


But they don’t. So I drink it for them. Which, I guess to be honest, might have been my intention all the time. However, my swarm of somewhat jumpy American friends is right; melon soda is a bright, neon green (that kind of looks like radioactive pee).

Japanese melon soda from karaoke

Japanese melon soda from karaoke

Why I don’t understand it:

Who thought it was a good idea to make a bright green, florescent drink that was supposed to resemble a sort-of bland, expensive fruit? (In Japan, melon is freakishly expensive. I’ve seen regular-sized winter melons going for 50 dollars apiece, with their perfectly textured skin and identical, 2 inch stems with a leaf still attached).

I’m not saying melon soda should not have been invented. I’m just saying, there is no part of melon soda (aside from the presence of green) that in any way resembles an actual melon, because while a melon can be a pale green, it usually comes in a pinkish-orange color.

So by that logic, melon soda should be pinkish-orange.

I’m just saying, they should have given melon soda a different name. Like Calpis or any of the other Japanese-invented drinks.

I can understand grape Fanta. I just can't understand Melon Fanta...

I can understand grape Fanta. I just can’t understand Melon Fanta…

Why I do kind of understand it:

Japan has a melon fetish, and no, not in a perverted way. They have melon bread, melon-shaped cartoon characters, and really expensive melons that you can send to your parents/boss/coworkers to try to get them to like you more around the New Years.

If this delicious melon soda wasn’t marketed under the name “melon soda,” someone down the road would eventually make another kind of melon soda – possibly more authentic to the taste of melon (and could even be pinkish-orange).

Melon soda was bound to happen sooner or later. I’m just glad it happened sooner. And that it’s so cheap.


Final thoughts about melon soda:

People ask me all the time “What are you going to miss the most about Japan when you go back to Texas?” I feel like they’re expecting me to say something deep like “my friends” or “my fiancé” or “the International Christian University campus” or “sushi,” but instead, without a pause, I always say “melon soda.”

Of all the things to miss in Japan (and believe me, there’s a lot), I always say melon soda. Why? Because melon soda is downright delicious, that’s why.

And no other country (especially Texas), is EVER going to create or market melon soda. I can always make (crappy) sushi in America, make my fiancé move to Texas, and adopt a cat to make up for all the cats I miss at ICU, but when I leave Japan, I lose melon soda.


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17 responses to “Things I don’t Understand about Japan: Melon Soda

  1. wow, you are the only one I have come acrossed that has written regarding ‘melon soda’ and laments having to leave it behind. I thought I was the only one, 😛

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  5. THIS.

    Melon soda is the very nectar of the united Kami. It is the pinnacle of soft drink technology. No other fizzy drink is capable of dethroning it from its rule. It is the Elvis of soda. The Einstein of carbonated beverages. The Shakespeare of pops.

    I like Pokka Sapporo best. Melon Fanta is next, then Suntory. Tried it with still Calpis, 50/50? Gorgeous. tastes just like melons. It does. I don’t know what you’ve been eating but really – half of the amazing nature of it lies in how it looks so inauthentic but tastes so close (like Ichigo au lait). It’s not like the orange fleshed ones, but it’s like Honeydews or green-fleshed Galia types.

    I don’t think it’s any harder to understand than some western drinks; take clear lemonades like Sprite, for instance. Not a lemon in sight, doesn’t taste like lemons, clear as water. Nice, but considerably further from its namesake than melon soda. Or for that matter, cola. What the hell IS cola? What does it taste like? What is it supposed to taste of? And don’t start me off on Red Bull, The Seductive Urine Of Darkness Itself – that weird, unplaceable taste, distinctive and like nothing else you’ve ever tasted but somehow reminiscent of every cheap sweet you’ve ever eaten too many of, oddly familiar yet so damn artificial it’s unreal.

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  10. I love your comparison of Melon Soda to radioactive piss. You should write about all the weird drinks, like corn drink or coffee soda (yuck)

    • I realized while I was writing this that THERE ARE SO MANY WEIRD DRINKS IN JAPAN.
      I don’t even know where to start. So I chose melon soda (since I had a friend visiting who didn’t want to even try it)

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