•About this Yokai•
Suika no bakemono – 西瓜の化物
"Suika no bakemono” or ‘Monster Melon’ - a [modern take on] a yokai from Buson yōkai emaki [last slide.] – Originally drawn by poet Yosa Buson depicted during his travels in 1754-1757 - It was given a name, but no description other than that its from Osaka!!
•a lot about melons•
Honestly I just wanted an excuse to draw a square melon monster Because... Well, sadly theres not really much more to say about this Yokai! - unfortunately it seems that this yokais origins are largely lost to time!!
Watermelons (round ones) where introduced to Japan from China in the beginning of the Edo Period and as they are anywhere; they're a staple summertime fruit, enjoyed to beat the heat!! - Shaped watermelons on the other hand are a premium/luxury fruit: the cube shape was supposedly invented (or at least, patented) in 1978 by Tomoyuki Ono: A Graphic Designer! - (some other farmers swear they came up with it first!) - The cube melons Originated in Zentsuji Kagawa prefecture where it seems that around the time Ice cream came about, Watermelons began to have competition as THE summertime treat: So, not wanting to give up on melons, she invented a mold to put the melons in to give them a fun shape and to make them easier to store.
Today: Cube melons can cost between $85-$540+ in Japan and can go as high as $860+ abroad! [Comparatively: Normal round melons only cost about $8-$12 in Japan!] - The price difference is mainly because square melons are produced on a limited run per season, and only about 200 are put to market per year, So they're an expensive produce indeed! - Though tempting, unfortunately, these cubed melons are not meant to be eaten and are much more commonly used for store displays, home decoration or given as gifts! – Cube Watermelons typically use a clear box Mold or cage, to grow into the proper shape, and thus must be harvested before they are properly ripe and ready! – Unfortunately this means the insides are still yellow & taste watery, sour and are practically inedible...so despite the supposed “practicality of being square and fitting better in fridges” they just aren’t very tasty. The fruits are harvested early so that the melons can last up to 6~months at point of sale, where your average ripe melon maybe lasts a week or two at best. – The stranger the shape, the more the melon can cost! today there are hearts, pyramids and other fun molds out there as well.
Ultimately, The shaped melons cost so much, because farmers have to individually tend & care for the fruits for weeks to make sure they’re as perfectly shaped as they can be: they’re more an art piece than something you’re meant to snack on. So, appearance is most important and blemished fruits are often discarded immediately. - (The disposal of “imperfect fruits” is a problem throughout the food industry world wide. (Thankfully these imperfect melons are often given to prepared food companies. so its not always a waste!))
Similarly: Crown Cantaloupes with interesting vein patterns are trimmed & artistically shaped to make all sorts of patterns (even characters faces!) Some of these fruits go at auction for more than 5 million ¥!! (Thats $45,000+!!)
So – caring for shaped melons is an art in of itself: Though it seems the Premium fruits can lean on the side of Scary Pricy – People bid as much as they do as a way to say “Thank you” and show respect to the farmers for their hours and hours of labor... [Thanks for reading this far!!]
--I digress, For my melon monster: lets say perhaps he’s the young spirit of those melons that where grown imperfectly. – (Note: the askew stem, scar & pattern.) as such, he was not sold & similarly to "Tantankororin" he now wanders, upset about going to waste!!
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky (yo thats me!) - Part of my Night parade of 100 Demons - Yokai & Japanese folklore sticker collection, weather-resistant 4" Glossy sticer. Check my shop & follow @samkalensky for many more!