Melon Pan, the Japanese Brioche   メロンパン

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The famous melonpan.

One of the variants of Melon pan is to keep only the crisp envelope: it then becomes the Melon pan no kawa.

A variant on melonpan is to keep only the crispy cookie crust: it then becomes "melonpan no kawa".

The front of the Kagetsudo shop in Asakusa.

The front of Kagetsudo melon pan shop in Asakusa.

With its crispy envelope and soft interior, the melon pan is a popular snack at any time of the day

With its crispy crust and soft interior, melonpan is a popular snack at any time of day!

The sweet Japanese bread, a delicous snack

Sweet, round and tempting, melonpan is hard to resist. Its sugary crust resembles a melon, but how does it taste like one? 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, melon pan (pan is the name borrowed from Portuguese to designate bread in Japanese) 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. The first pan melons had an oval shape, like that of a kind of melon of Korean origin that they were supposed to imitate, hence their cracked crust. Now melon pan is better known for its round shape, there are still oval versions available, elongated or even cylindrical, depending on the region.

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 (kawa) without the bread bun.

Melon Pan: Tastes delicious but don't eat too much

Considering the popularity of this treat and the place it had taken in everyday life in Japan, sometimes serving as breakfast or even as a lunch "bento" for school children, the Japanese Ministry of Health looked into the nutritional benefits of this brioche. The results were clear: the melon pan was very unhealthy!

With some parents naively mistaken this snack as bread (after all, the name suggests this), it turns out to be a product high in aluminum, aluminum is found in small amounts in many foods. However, it is very high in melon pan due to the amount of baking powder used to give these Japanese buns and give them a very crispy crust. Also, the melon pan is packed with artificial colors and favors, which are particularly unhealthy. Another terrifying fact, is that a single brioche contains between 400 and 500 calories, mainly from sugars and fats. So be careful to eat in moderation! 

The famous melonpan.

MELON PAN RECIPE: 

Where can you buy Melon Pan in Tokyo?

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 front of the Kagetsudo shop in Asakusa.

The front of Kagetsudo melon pan shop in Asakusa.

Kagetsudo (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.

  • Address:  2 Chome-7-13 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032
  • Opening Hours: Daily 9am - 5pm
  • Official website

Sekai de Nibanme no Oishii Yakitate Melon Pan Ice

By this long extension, understand: "The second best melon pan in the ice in the world". This boutique, located about 8 minutes' walk from Shibuya station (near Yoyogi Park), serves freshly baked melon pan filled with ice cream (several flavors to choose from).

  • AddressIwase Building 1-15-9 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0041
  • Opening Hours: Daily 11am - 10pm

Melon Pan Factory (Oimachi)

Here you can taste pan melons with different flavors. 1 minute walk from Oimachi station.

  • Address: 6 Chome-2-1 Higashioi, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
  • Opening Hours: Open every day except Monday from 10:30am to 9:00 pm

Kimuraya (GINZA)

The famous Ginza bakery is best known for its rolls filled with red bean paste (an pan) but it also serves pan melon filled with a cream flavored with melon puree. 1 minute walk from Marunouchi Ginza station, exit A9.

  • Address: 4-5-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
  • Opening hours: Daily 10am - 9pm

Melon pan is part of Japanese popular culture and is found in cartoons.

Melon pan is part of Japanese popular culture and is found in cartoons.

In manga

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...

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