The famous melonpan.
A variant on melonpan is to keep only the crispy cookie crust: it then becomes "melonpan no kawa".
Credit: logq_fa http://gigazine.net/news/20141215-melonpan-kawa-fujipan/
The front of Kagetsudo melon pan shop in Asakusa.
Credit: 浅草花月堂『名物、ジャンボめろんぱん』kagetsudo https://www.facebook.com/asakusakagetsudo/photos/a.545337318976016.1073741828.545333258976422/804499499726462/?type=3&theater
With its crispy crust and soft interior, melonpan is a popular snack at any time of day!
Credit: Naotake Murayama https://www.flickr.com/photos/naotakem/7806496798/in/photolist-cTQkwo-bgae5T-EvSJgv-7maj3h-75VSPu-aeF7Nd-9B5hNy-dxBUpf
Melonpan is part of Japanese popular culture, even found in cartoons!
Credit: Copyright 2012 Puni Puni Japan LLC http://www.punipunijapan.com/japanese-bread-vocabulary/
The sweet Japanese bread bun
Sweet, round and tempting, melonpan is hard to resist. Its sugary crust resembles a melon, but how does it taste?
Melon bread, or melonpan is a very common sweet Japanese snack. It consists of a sweet bread dough covered with a cookie dough, that gives it a crispy outer texture when baked.
Bread... with melon?
Contrary to what the name implies, melonpan isn't actually made using melon! Some versions might add melon flavoring, but the traditional basic recipe is mostly flour, butter, milk and sugar - the name comes from the bread's round and textured appearance. Hugely popular all over Japan, it's not uncommon to find melonpan made with chocolate chips, matcha, or filled with custard or ice cream. There are so many varieties now, which change according to the region. One of the most fun is melonpan no kawa, which is just the crispy cookie crust without the bread bun.
Where can you buy it?
Enjoyed by young and old alike, melonpan isn't hard to find. All konbini and Japanese supermarkets you visit will sell several types. But to discover the most authentic flavor and texture, it's best to buy a freshly baked melonpan from one of the many Japanese bakeries.
The melonpan of Asakusa
If you are visiting Asakusa in Tokyo and feel like a sweet snack, head to Kagetsudo. Founded in 1945, this shop originally specialized in the manufacture and sale of Japanese sweets. Today, it's famous for its "jumbo melonpan", a giant melonpan for the very hungry. Despite baking these huge buns throughout the day (over 2,000 of them), it's common that the store has to close early, having run out! To get to the shop from Nakamise-dori shopping street (leading to Senso-ji Temple), take the road on your left, just after passing the imposing incense burner.
Melonpan is so well-loved in Japan that it features frequently in popular culture. In Anpanman, a beloved children's cartoon about a group of bread-themed superheroes, one of the main character's friends is called Melonpanna, a cute, caring character with super powers and a very familiar-shaped head...