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Why Are Summer Fruits So Popular As Gifts? – An Insight Into Japanese Gift-Giving Culture

Jun 21 2021 - Blog

Many of us have probably heard about the Japanese musk melons and how they can fetch up to a staggering 5 million yen (S$60,000) at auctions. What we may not understand is why they are sold for over $100 at Japanese supermarkets and how these fruits are closely associated with the social custom of gift-giving (zōtō) in Japan!

Japanese gift-giving (zōtō) is an age-old tradition and a crucial part of Japan’s system of social exchange – where individuals express appreciation, give encouragement and cultivate personal or business relations. It mainly happens during midsummer (Chūgen) and at the year’s end (Seibo). Fruits are particularly popular, as seasons play a big role in Japanese culture, allowing people to smell and taste the season.

With emphasis placed on the presentation of the gift, these fruits are often laboriously cultivated to be blemish-free and have the perfect shape. It is hence no wonder that with the high standards required for fruit selection, seasonal fruits are often viewed as a luxurious gift item in Japan.


Popular Summer Fruits for Gifting

Rock Melon

The reputation of the Japanese melon precedes its name. Cultivating the melon requires a lot of care and attention from the farmers. To get the perfect appearance and taste, the melons are given small hats to prevent them from burning under the sun, wrapped carefully in white paper, as well as even massaged and polished by hand. Quality is top-notch – which would explain their price and why they are prized as luxury gifts.

Taste-wise, expect exploding juiciness, on top of an incomparable mellow sweetness and aroma. With high water content, they make delectable hydrating treats and a joyous dessert topping during the summer months. Boasting high in beta-carotene contents, Japanese Rock Melons can be kept for a longer time as compared to other melon types.


Delaware Grapes

Taste champagne with every bite with the Delaware grapes. This sweet and juicy fruit is popular for gifting in Japan especially since it is seedless, easy to consume and delicious. Known for their delicate skin that peels readily, the Delaware grapes are ideal for dessert. It is best to consume it chilled, making it just perfect for summer time. 


Japanese Momo Peaches

Beautifully pink, sweet and delectable, Japanese Momo Peaches make powerful thirst quenchers. Peach farming is labour intensive, as peaches are rather delicate. Their growing conditions are constantly monitored and the fruits are carefully wrapped to protect their delicate skins. Pretty and high in nutrition, they are very popular amongst the ladies.



An exquisite balance of sweet and sour, plums are also popular summer fruits for gifting and consumption. When ripe, they make juicy and refreshingly sweet treats, with moderate acidity. However, if you choose an unripe plum, brace yourself for some mouth-puckering tartness. They are also filled with nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, making it a wonderful fruit to incorporate into your diet.



Nothing says summer quite like the juicy sweet watermelon. Unlike other watermelons, the Japanese watermelons are strictly cultivated to become luxury gifts. To achieve a perfect watermelon, each stage of its cultivation is carefully controlled – from selecting the seeds to the soil, nutrients and temperature used. Not only do they taste heavenly, they are high in nutrients and water content, making them a popular gift – especially for seniors.

Etiquette Tips for Japanese Gift-Giving
  • Always give or receive gifts with two hands, as this represents a sign of respect.
  • Ensure that your gift is well-presented, or nicely wrapped.
  • Make sure to continue offering your gift if it is rejected at first. It is customary in Japanese culture to politely refuse gifts in the beginning.
  • Offer your gift at the end of the meeting. To give it in the beginning may signal that you are rushing the proceedings.
  • Last but not least, if you receive a luxury fruit as a gift, lucky you! Treat it like a special item to be shared amongst friends and family.

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