Brand: Famima Bakery

Cost: 110 yen

Found At: Family Mart

The amount of effort required to make a melonpan is obscene.

I know, I know. Here’s another West Coast liberal weighing in on a hot-button issue from a position of privilege, but I’ve watched the youtube video. I’ve seen the amount of sifting and creaming and chilling and rising that goes into making this beautiful bready desert. I’ve seen how precisely you need to measure the cookie dough, roll it out, and wrap it around an equally carefully proportioned amount of sweet bread dough. I can barely be asked to put premade cookie-dough in the oven – but to make a melonpan you can spend all afternoon and end up with only six or seven buns to show for it.

The evidence is clear. Making a melonpan is too much work.

But boy is it delicious. It’s the quintessential Japanese pastry – fluffy and bready on the inside, crispy and sweet on the outside, and absolutely adorable to look at. There’s no actual melon in a melonpan – a fact that I have only recently learned. Instead, the name comes from the diamond design carved into the bread, resembling a mango that has been freshly sliced. Of course, a mango is not a melon, but that’s neither here or there. The melonpan is one of those Japanese treats that do not immediately spring to mind when considering “Japanese cuisine,” but it’s a sweet, simple experience that should not be missed when visiting Japan. There’s nothing quite so lovely as a melonpan by the river on a summer day.

Which is why I am so glad that someone has gone to the effort for me. Instead of slaving over a hot stove, waiting for my husband to come home, I can just go buy it in any grocery store, neighborhood bakery, or convenience store I like. Like the sewing machine and the mechanical loom, this is another prime example of better living through industry.

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