National

Watermelon producers' nationwide tastings pitch fruit as heat remedy

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

The Suika Club held dozens of watermelon-tasting events nationwide Wednesday to promote the tasty seasonal treat.

The group’s pitch: Watermelon helps prevent summer afflictions, including heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Club members handed out pieces at the Tokyo Midtown complex in the Roppongi district and 30 other locations throughout Japan, touting the benefits of crunching watermelon when it’s just too hot to do much else.

“You should eat watermelon before going outside, such as to the beach. It can prevent your body temperature from rising too high,” Toshihiro Hagihara, the club’s spokesman, said.

The farmer from Nara Prefecture founded the group in March 2013 and is a member of Japan’s watermelon aristocracy, as his Hagihara Farm Co. has a history stretching back more than a century.

A booklet the farmers handed out said that since watermelons are 90 percent water and contain sugar as well as such minerals as potassium, calcium and magnesium, they function as well as the pricey isotonic sports drinks pushed by manufacturers.

The booklet also claims that citrulline, an amino acid in watermelons, helps improve blood flow.

Taking part in the event was celebrity weather forecaster Minoru Kihara, who said that although Kanto is still in its annual rainy season, temperatures will soar within weeks.

“The end of the rainy season is expected to be announced soon,” he said, adding that the mercury may then hit 34 or 35 degrees.

“The three-month forecast from August shows September will be especially hot.”

Kihara advised people to take care because this summer may be long and heavy, adding that it would be a good idea to eat lots of watermelon.