Kumamoto #7: Watermelon (スイカ)

Kumamoto is the highest producer of that quintessential summer fruit, the watermelon, and its 7th card reflects that. Anyone who has tried to buy watermelon in Japan knows it’s a pretty expensive fruit. It is hard for me to justify the price when I know just how cheap and big they are back home, but I can never resist… it’s my favorite fruit! (Well, one of them anyway!)

When I was in Kumamoto last summer I didn’t have the chance to look around for any watermelon to buy, but I did find watermelon soda for sale, and grabbed some to try. I’m not sure I’d buy it again, but it was almost as refreshing as an actual slice of watermelon.

Postcard and the watermelon-themed cooler the drinks were kept in

This summer I will have to see if my local supermarket gets in any Kumamoto watermelons to take a picture with. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to eat them again!

Kumamoto #1: Spicy Lotus Root (辛子れんこん)

Anyone familiar with Japanese food knows of wasabi, the spicy but yummy paste made from a variety horseradish root ground. But wasabi isn’t the only spicy paste that is available here; the second type is called karashi and is a spicy hot mustard paste. This stuff can clear your sinuses just as quickly and effectively as wasabi, and is… dare I say it… maybe even MORE hot that wasabi! This spicy paste is stuffed into the holes of a cooked lotus root, and served as a local specialty in Kumamoto.

I tried a small piece fried like tempura and really enjoyed it, but I was cautioned ahead of time to take SMALL bites… just be careful if you do have a chance to eat it. It is yummy, but HOT!

I didn’t get a picture of the one I ate, but here’s a place selling some near Kumamoto Castle

I felt a bit bad about trying to take a picture without buying any, so it’s not a very good picture. But that’s just an excuse to go try some yourself, right?