What is Melon Pan, Japan's weird melon bread?

What is Melon Pan, Japan's weird melon bread?

Aug 02, 2023 Tags 

For fans of Japanese anime, melon bread is nothing new. At this point, you probably can’t count the number of times this Japanese pastry has appeared on these shows. However, not everyone has had the privilege to taste this sweet treat. 

Imagine a sweet bun adorned with a cookie-like crust, resembling the shape of a melon. You’re probably curious about its taste and want to try it yourself. So let’s dive deeper and take a look at the things that make a Japanese melon pan special.


What is melon pan?


Varieties of Melon Pan


Melon pan is a sweet bread loved for its combination of fluffiness and crunchiness. Its name is inspired by its resemblance to a melon or cantaloupe, as its top crust is decorated with a crisscross pattern that resembles the skin of the round, fleshy fruit. The combination of textures makes it a delight for those with a sweet tooth. 

“Is melon pan made of melon?” This is a question that most people ask. But contrary to its name, the melon pan doesn’t contain any melons in it.


What does melon pan smell like?


Melon pan simply smells like bread. The aroma is what you would expect from a sweet pastry. You won't smell hints of melon from it.


Melon Pan History: Why is it called melon pan?


Classic Melon Pan


There are theories surrounding the origin of the name "melon pan." To date, the Japanese haven't proven how it was named that way.

It is said that it was created during the Meiji Period (1868–1912). It bore a resemblance with the oriental melon (which is locally called マクワウリ). In other words, its crust design was parallel. It is then filled with shiroan or white bean paste. At the time, the oriental melon was simply called "melon." Hence, the name melon pan.

Another theory suggests that it originated from the Sunrise bread — a round pastry with a cookie crust on top — introduced to the country's southern areas namely Osaka and Hiroshima during the Taisho Era.

Eventually, its name was changed to melon pan and was sold nationwide. It resembled a muskmelon, an ultra-expensive fruit in Japan.

It is also said that back in 1910, a Japanese businessman named Okura Kihachiro had an Armenian baker named Sagoyan come to Japan. The breadsmith had prior experience working for Russia's Romanov family in Manchuria's Imperial Hotel. People believed that he created the melon pan with the French galette as the inspiration.

Another theory suggests that it got its name from meringue (メリンゲ).


Where to Buy Melon Pan in Japan


Freshly Baked Melon Pan


The best thing about Japan's melon bread is that it can be bought anywhere in the country! From bakeries to convenience stores, you can find tons of shops that sell this sweet treat in every nook and cranny.

And you know what’s even better? These shops not only offer the classic flavor, but also sell modern variations with delightful fillings such as custard, chocolate, or even ice cream.


Supermarkets and Convenience Stores


Lawson Hakko Butter Ga Kimete! (ローソン 発酵バターが決め手!ふんわりメロンパン)


Lawson Melon Pan


Lawson's melon pan is a delectable treat that lets you enjoy a combination of textures and flavors. You can expect the fluffiness from the bread and the crispiness from the top layer. But the secret to its incredible taste lies in the use of cultured butter in the cookie dough.



Famima The Melon Pan (ファミマ・ザ・メロンパン)


Famima Melon Pan


Just one look at the label and you'll see that Famima The Melon Pan has a French ingredient. The makers of this bread added fermented butter sourced from Normandy, France, creating a moist interior and a crispy surface.


Yamazaki Ookina Melon Pan (大きなメロンパン)


Yamazaki Ookina Melon Pan


Ookina means big. And if a regular-sized piece of bread isn't enough, you'll love the size of Yamazaki Ookina Melon Pan. 

The manufacturer ensures that the crust is baked to perfection, creating a delightful crispiness and a mouthwatering buttery flavor. 


Creamy Melon by Shinjuku Takano Fruits Parlor


Creamy Melon by Shinjuku Takano Fruits Parlor


Shinjuku Takano Fruits Parlor is a store where you can buy fruits. And within that store, there is also a bread section.

Unlike most melon bread, the melon pan offered by this store does have hints of melon. It also has a moderate sweetness that won't leave you feeling full after you finish a serving. The taste is so addictive that you might find yourself grabbing for more.


Kodawari Melon Pan by Patisserie SATSUKI


Kodawari Melon Pan by Patisserie SATSUKI


Would you like to try muskmelons but don't have the budget to do so? Patisserie SATSUKI will bring you that experience through their Kodawari Melon Pan.

It has a rich yet subtly sweet custard cream with notes of musk melon. Treat yourself to this delectable bun or buy it as a souvenir.


Melon Pan by Kimuraya


Melon Pan by Kimuraya


When you look at a piece of melon bread, the serving looks heavy. But that isn't the case with Kimuraya's melon pan. The company manages to create a light texture atypical of the melon pan. The top dough also delivers a buttery taste, making you crave more.


How Melon Pan Compares with Other Types of Bread


What is the difference between Anpan and melon pan?




What makes anpan different from melon bread is the filling. As the name suggests, anpan will always have anko (あんこ) or red bean paste. On the other hand, melon pan, despite its name, does not contain any melon flavoring or filling. Some melon pan makers add anko as a filling for this bread, though!


Melon Pan vs. Pineapple Bun


Pineapple Bun


Japan's melon pan is often compared with Hong Kong's pineapple bun because they look nearly similar. But the biggest difference is the top crust. The cookie dough of the melon pan is firmer than the pineapple bun's, making the top layer of the former less flaky. Weight and flavor-wise, the melon pan is lighter than the pineapple bun.


Melon Pan vs Concha




Yet another similar bread in terms of looks to the melon pan is Mexico’s concha. Their difference lies in the ingredients. Melon pan’s fluffiness comes from the cake flour — an ingredient that’s absent in concha.


Frequently Asked Questions about Melon Bread



How do you reheat melon pan?


Melon pan is generally best eaten after you buy them. But if you want to save them for later, put them in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat the bun, pop it in the oven toaster and toast until it’s golden brown.`


Is melon pan healthy?


No matter how delicious melon pan is, Japanese nutritionists say that this snack is extremely unhealthy. Sure you can indulge once in a while, but you need to be aware of the potential health risks associated with frequent consumption of melon pan. 


What is the shelf life of melon pan?


As always, check the label to see the specific information about the shelf life of the melon bread you purchased. You can freeze it for up to a couple of months to extend its shelf life.


Can I buy melon pan outside Japan?


Melon Pan in New York

A Japanese Bakery in New York


Believe it or not, you can enjoy this sweet treat at the comfort of your own home. Try searching Japanese pastry shops in your local area as they will likely include melon pan in their menu. And don’t worry if you don’t have such stores nearby, you can always order from Japanese subscription boxes.