Things I don’t Understand about Japan: Melon Soda

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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!!”

“JUST TRY IT.”

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).

Melon Soda (メロンソーダ) is a bright neon green, carbonated beverage famous in Japan. It doesn’t actually taste like melon. It looks like this:

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.

Melon Bread (メロンパン), or melon pan, is an incredibly famous Japanese treat that loosely resembles a cantaloupe. It doesn’t actually taste like melon and is made by baking crisp cookie dough on top of enriched dough. Some variations have chocolate chips baked in the bread or a melon-flavored cream filling.

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.

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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.

Forever.

For other “Things I don’t Understand About Japan” posts, check out:

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About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

56 Comments on Things I don’t Understand about Japan: Melon Soda

  1. I just came back from my first visit to Kyoto. Yes indeed, melon soda is divine!

  2. Anonymous // 25 June, 2015 at 5:53 am //

    MELON soda is the best…definitely miss it!!!

  3. Amanda Textor // 14 April, 2015 at 11:38 pm //

    That’s a top thing on my list I miss a lot too ;)

  4. Hi, I used to live in Paris (France) between 2003 and 2007 and I enjoyed melon soda there until 2006 when the product was withdrawn. Probably because we Europeans are uncomfortable with brightly colored food and drinks…

  5. I just saw some melon ramune at a local grocery chain in MA…Now I wish I’d bought a bottle to try. I ended up getting strawberry ramune. Which was also good.

  6. I also have very fond memories of melon soda. I remember in my childhood, the first thing I will get as soon as I arrived in Japan to visit my grandparents was a melon flavored Fanta from Lawson. I always thought it kind of tasted like liquid bubblegum. It still remains my favorite carbonated beverage.

  7. In the UK a soda brand called lucozade makes “melonaide” which is almost exactly like melon soda 99p for 2L.

  8. Anon Y. Mous // 30 January, 2015 at 2:53 pm //

    I live in Hawaii and, like many other things that are supposed to be “Japan only,” we have melon soda. It’s not just for Japanese tourists or anything, either, you can usually find it in grocery stores and other places where there are no tourists.

  9. Anonymous // 6 January, 2015 at 3:32 am //

    I was in japan this summer and the 2 things I miss the most are sea salt ice cream and melon soda. I feel like if I had either of them again I would cry from happiness.

  10. Hi! I’m really loving your blog! (Seriously, I was just looking at pictures online and stumbled onto your blog and got stuck. ^_^)

    So, first, I’m from Indiana and a quarter Japanese. We still have relatives in Japan, so I’ve visited occasionally, and I completely agree that it is the saddest thing to know you won’t be able to have any more melon soda!

    While they don’t ALWAYS have it, several of the asian markets here in Indiana usually have melon soda. (Which is something I was overly thrilled about. :P) And there’s a half fancy half rundown place in Chicago that is a Japanese market that sells all the melon stuff. (I know because I bought an entire bag of candies and another of soda when I visited. lol)
    I don’t know if that will reflect at all on Texas, but I thought I would add it, since I’m not on the west coast like other commenters.

    I do absolutely love melon soda, and since my first visit to Japan have felt it’s completely unfair that Fanta makes it, but doesn’t sell it in the US! (The ones at the asian markets are typically Sangaria or Ramune, which is fine but we get other Fanta flavors why not melon?!)

    As for the flavor, my understanding is that it’s based on a Japanese “muskmelon” which is more related to a honeydew than a cantaloupe. It also seems to be a kind of yellowy-green, which may explain the highlighter color of the drink. :X lol. (Also, it IS what Midori, the alcohol is supposed to taste like.)

    Anyway, as I said, I love your blog; your writing makes you an extremely easy person to empathize with and wish that we were friends. lol.

    Thanks! ^_^

  11. I’m a little confused because the Japanese melon soda I have had does taste like melon. It’s not water melon, but there are lots of different kinds of melon./ To me it tastes like what we call ‘honeydew’.

  12. I admit, I’m also a melonsodaholic lol. I think the first time I tried it was in Namjatown gyozas world. I asked for a melon soda….because melon soda ….come on…that is so cool. Anyway ever since I have been addicted !! I went to Jonathan’s restaurant in Harajuku this spring and they had All you can drink Melon soda ( You could refill your drinks all you wish ). Dream land. lol. Everytime I drink something in karaoke it will be melon soda. If you are lucky you can sometime find some asiatic grocery store that sell melon soda in bottle in Canada, but most of the time they are less good than the one in Japan.

    Anyway Im also addicted to Melon pan XD. I really thought it would taste melon thought …so I was quite surprised the first time. This spring I think I ate one melon pan every day I was there for two weeks XD. I was a little tired to eat it at the end but I thought ”I have to eat a because there is no melon pan back home”. My favorite are the one with cream inside. I think I was buying it in Familly mart, but …yeah every conbini have melon pans.

    Sorry I got high because I remembered how much I miss Melon soda and Melon pan. ( and Japan )

  13. Besides the florescent-green melon soda, I used to have Fanta Blueberry which is florescent-blue (super bright neon blue) back in my country (don’t know if it available elsewhere or not). Which after you drank it, your tongue will turn blue-ish and I used to scare friends with that (lol). Its taste was awesome as well !

  14. Isn’t it just non-alcoholic Midori? Midori, for those that don’t know, is a liqueur that was created in Japan that has a melon taste and is the same radioactive green color as the melon soda you are showing. It tastes delicious and popular drinks are the Midori Sour and the Tokyo Tea, the latter will destroy you using the same ingredients as an Adios Mother-F***** (or AMF) but substituting the Blue Curaçao for Midori.

  15. Anonymous // 7 October, 2014 at 5:35 pm //

    There’s definitely melon soda in Asian supermarkets in america but probably only where there are enough Asians to warrant Asian markets- NYC, some cities in ca.

  16. Yeeesssssss!!!!I This is one of my top things I miss about Japan (the “melon” sodas marketed in the States don’t compare one jot…), this and Mos Burger. Like, I can’t even explain… I’m *so* glad someone else understands this! :’) Greetings from a fellow Japan-lovin’ Texan!! ^_^/

  17. In Lithuania recent trend is rising popularity of mojito taste or lemon+lime+mint taste sodas. When I leave for Tokyo, I hope to find it there too among many many many soda tastes. Well, at least something citrusy with mint. Will try melon soda first though, got curious (and I love soda anyway).

  18. I got addicted to melon Fanta while in Japan as well! I want to buy it here in the US so bad!

  19. I remember first trying melon soda back in the early 00s when Suncoast had import bottles of it for like $5 a pop! Totally worth it, and I remember being so infatuated with it that I kept the empty bottle just to smell the inside (and hey, the bottle looked cool too)!

    Also, EPCOT at Disney World had Cokes From Around The World, and they had melon soda on tap! I’ve never seen something else like that outside of Japan!!

  20. Just stumbled on this great blog. Im a Japanese American living in LA and I too totally loved melon soda so I can relate to your passion on this. I would take yearly trips to Japan, and one of the first things I’d do upon arrival was hit up the famiresu GUSTO and their drink bar with melon soda (which was also pretty rare back in the day). As a student this was pure bliss cuz I couldnt afford the 700yen a pop at the kissaten, Before returning I would fill my luggage with bottles of this stuff, and make my stash last months. Was always so sad when I ran out lol. But as someone else mentioned, its now readily available at all the major Japanese supermarkets here in LA. Im guessing its pretty popular item, because its been around 10+ years now.

    The Mitsuwa in LA carries both the UCC and Sapporo brand, and they ship so if you ever move back to Texas, you should be good :)

    http://store.mitsuwa.com/–bottled-drinks-c32.aspx

    • I don’t plan to leave Japan any time soon (but if I do, I’m going to keep that in mind).

      I really love how I’m not the only one who has this deep, deep love for melon soda. I can totally see people stuffing cans in their luggage. Hah.

  21. ishidora // 27 April, 2014 at 6:54 pm //

    maybe because you are American the melons you know taste different and one type of melon is orange. but there’s more than one type that is indeed green and the melon soda does taste like the melons we eat in Chile….

    • Interesting. I think my husband and I have decided that melon soda taste the most like the green melons (especially in Japan, where they are much “sweeter” than the green melons in America) – but melon soda (and melon bread) still has a distinctly unique taste.

  22. Phoenix // 4 April, 2014 at 6:42 pm //

    I don’t know about in USA, but in Australia we have a store called Daiso, which is a Japanese store where EVERYTHING is $2.80, and they sell Melon soda, and I LOVE it so much!

  23. I was born and grew up in Japan due to the military and to this day I still miss melon soda, I tried googling it to see if I could buy it here in California and came across your blog. I’m still trying to find it! It’s so awesome to see someone else who loves this soda as much as I do haha. :)

    • Hahahaha. I do love melon soda.
      While I still can’t get it in Texas, I discovered that “Inka Cola” (sold in a glass bottle of yellow liquid) tastes almost the exact same. It was a bit odd.

      If you can find a shop that sells food from Latin America, try to pick up a bottle of Inka Cola!

  24. but melon soda actualy tastes like a japanese melon… and japanese melon is green… not that green but is green

  25. You can actually find it at a decent price in the States at Japanese supermarkets (at least in California).

  26. Anonymous // 17 July, 2013 at 5:12 am //

    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, :P

    • I adore melon soda :)
      I tried buying it on eBay last time I was in America.

      Do you know of any good/cheap ways to get melon soda back in the States?

      • When I was a kid in the 60s the only wa you were ever going to get melon soda without having your parents take you to the cafe was to mix a pack of “melon soda powder” with water. God knows just what was in the pack, I assume some cyclo (supposedly cancer causing artificial sweetener ) and some fluorescent ink I bet. But I loved this carbonated KoolAid . It is still available
        http://kracie-o-shop.jp/okashi/products/furufuru_soda.html
        But now they’ve replaced all the bad stuff with natural ingredients so I am not sure if its the same bad stuff.

        • gracebuchele // 7 August, 2013 at 1:28 pm //

          I’ve never heard of the powdered melon soda! That sounds delicious. I think I’m going to order a pack just to see what it tastes like (I wonder what melon soda with natural ingredients actually tastes like…?)
          Thanks for the link!

  27. SecretCatPolicy // 6 May, 2013 at 9:21 am //

    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.

    But..it 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.

  28. Lol~ I like this post. :D

  29. Chris Herpel // 24 March, 2013 at 9:07 pm //

    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)

      • Tomohiko // 19 May, 2015 at 8:06 am //

        Hello, another Melon soda fan here. Speaking of weird drinks, has anyone had Fanta Jelly before? They sort of disappeared, but I remember them being pretty good!

  30. Hahahaha! I love melon soda! It’s so delicious!

  31. Wow. I can’t believe I’ve been to Japan 5 times and I never tried it!

    • Wow, really?
      Next time you come to Japan, you should try it! Nearly every restaurant (and some vending machines) have it. I’m sure you will love it~

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