Portable watermelon fridge

Tama-chan is a portable watermelon refrigerator on wheels. The Japanese device retails for 19,950 yen (about $200) and can handle watermelons or similarly shaped comestibles, such as poultry, roasts, or severed heads. The device itself weighs 6.3kg, and charges from a car lighter socket.

ポータブル温冷庫/The Portable Watermelon Fridge — Could It Be The Perfect Gift For The Person Who Has It All?

(via Digg)



  1. I’m holding out for the double-wide model.  I’d like to be able to carry a refrigerated watermelon, AND human head at the same time.  You never know which one you might need. 

  2. A round watermelon cooler from the country that created the square watermelon. Everybody needs to get on the same page!

  3. If you’ve been to Japan, and seen with your own eyes how much a single watermelon can cost (I’ve seen them over 80 usd), it could make sense of this.

    I’m certain there are some that must sell for over 100$ usd a piece. They are just very valued as a fruit, being so labor intensive to grow for the amount of space you need for them. It must come back to a square footage kinda deal.

    That said, this is still ridiculous, unless you regularly need to transport heirloom quality watermelons singularly. I am still trying to figure out who this item is intended for…

    1. Japanese fruit prices are entirely artificial. There is an official production and subsidy scheme that tries to ensure a uniform price year-round while insanely high import tariffs prevent most kinds of fruit from being imported.

      Vegetables can be comparatively cheap, even unwieldy and labor-intensive ones.

      That said, those pretty, big, flawless $100 watermelons are sold as gifts (and probably passed on as gifts and never eaten). You’d maybe buy an entire $20 watermelon for a party or a single prepackaged slice if you just want to eat some watermelon. It’s a cultural thing if you ask me.

      1. There is a Japanese supermarket where I live in Singapore, and post-Fukishima, all the luxury fruit was sold off at rock bottom prices. I got a $20 bag of satsumas for $8 ($2 each!), a $100 honeydew melon for $20 (still expensive, but it was a perfectly ripe and unblemished melon), and a pair of $24 Fuji apples for $8 (Surprisingly flavoursome and un-chalky, but difficult to bite because of the size).

        It was all surprisingly edible, and the apples were not (over) waxed or anything. All this fruit is genuinely meant for consumption. The Japanese have a third option for the disposal of exorbitant gifts though – leave it at a shrine of one of your ancestors.

    2. From the linked article: “In Japan, we love to eat chilled watermelon in the summer. We even have a traditional game we play outdoors called suika-wari (literally, “splitting the watermelon”), where people try to crack open a watermelon with a stick while blindfolded, piñata-style.”

      The following is my assumption… since these suika-wari revelers have enough money to hang an $80 chilled fruit and blindly whack it with sticks, showing up to an affluent suika-wari game with a melon in a cheap ice cooler may be embarrassing.

    3. *gasp!!!* $80 for one watermelon!?  Are you guaranteed perfect ripeness and sweetness for that price?  However carefully I may search for a pale-bellied melon, thump or sniff in the quest of a ripe, sweet melon, I don’t always get one and for $80 I’d be pissed to bite into any slice less flavorful. 

      OTOH, I bought two frozen pieces of sashimi-grade tuna to make poke bowls with Saturday, and found the quality of the tuna ‘grainy’ and a bit pale.  I wondered if it would have even been sold labeled ‘sashimi-grade’ in Japan.  It was $16 a pound and tasted it.

      1.  The most expensive one I ever saw was about $60 in the supermarket. (I also saw a single mango for $28). Thing is, though, they’re not even as large as the US watermelons you pick up at the store for $5. Japanese watermelons are generally tasty, but only the size of a large basketball.

        1. The aesthetics of bonsai applied to fruit.  Shhhhh! *looks over shoulder to see if Petersen is listening*

          Thank you, Antinous, that was very helpful.  I was at RSA last year with my husband, and shopping in and round the Financial District.  There were a few shops specializing in Japanese sweets, but I didn’t buy any.  They were beautifully displayed too.

    4.  Taken with my camera phone in Sannomiya Daiei Supermarket, 2007.  I’m not sure what the exact conversion was, but 10,000 yen was about $100, maybe a little more at the time.

  4. Oh man, if I had a nickel for every time I burned the roof of my mouth on a piece of hot watermelon. But no more!

  5. (was supposed to be a reply to AC)
    You can get your watermelons cheaper used.
    Seriously, though, the famous $80/$100/$100000 Japanese watermelons are luxury goods with deliberately inflated values intended for gifts; nobody buys them to eat them or thinks that a watermelon is really worth $80.  Fruit is generally expensive in Japan but a normal watermelon is in the $10 range.
    Bringing a watermelon to the beach, which for some reason is then smashed by friends with a bat, is a summer staple in Japan.  For the consumer, the purpose of the portable watermelon fridge is, I assume, to be a beach party star.  Or to provide a novelty gift for someone else.  For the manufacturer, most of these wacky Japanese inventions are just intended to provide publicity for the company.
    I suppose it might work better than a traditional cooler for those 3-hour car trips in 35-degree heat, though.

      1. Which is why many people just buy a slice for ~$1-4, depending on season, sweetness and size of said slice.

  6. I want one! But I can’t decide if I should have it sit in my basement for 3 years first, or if I should have it shipped directly to the landfill instead?

    1.  You’re required to keep it until the film crew for “Hoarders” shows up.  Explaining it to Dr. Zasio will be a key part of your healing.

  7. Why terrorists even bother is beyond me.  They can just sit back, relax, laugh, and watch stuff like this roll off the production line, undermining the developed world watermelon by watermelon.

    Zatoichi would not approve.

      1. Because they’re an anagram for ‘Hell’s cold mine’, which is what this machine really leads you to.

  8. I like your style, Cory.  Many years ago I remarked to a lady friend that her handbag was ‘big enough to fit a severed head in’ and she just looked at me like I was weird.

    1. Well, of course she did, and rightly so! You were proposing she should carry around a severed head at room temperature, and in her handbag rather than a wheeled conveyance. An utterly senseless suggestion, I submit to you!

    1.  Sadly, the price of googley eyes has recently shot up to $20 a packet, on account of the sudden craze for putting them on photographs of deep sea fauna.

  9. Does it depress anyone else that a melon is officially equipped to live a more sci-fi existence than greater than 99% of the human population?


  10. In spite of its negative impact on refrigeration efficiency, the transparent “I have a watermelon and you don’t!” dome is a nice touch.

    1. It creates a temperature gradient, so that you have your option of colder melon at the bottom, and warmer melon at the top.

  11. I like this idea. It protects the melon from sand at the beach, keeps it cool without getting it salty from the sea… only problem is, it’d never hold the size of watermelon they get here in Texas.

    I’d never seen watermelons that weren’t vaguely spherical, before, but these things are *long*. Instead of slicing them like an orange, you have to slide them like a loaf of bread. With a big knife, not a bat, because this is one of the few times I have a good excuse to hack at things with a huge knife.

    1. Fellow Texan here. Back in my college days, I once had the chance to go after one of those giant watermelons with a katana (a cheap knockoff, of course, but still). In a nigh-accidental bit of beginner’s luck, I managed to slice it evenly top-to-bottom.  There may, or may not, have been ninja-esque posing, “hwaaaaarrrraaahhh” exclamations and general strutting afterward.  One of the high points of my young life, that. I’ve deliberately avoided trying such a stunt again- I know I’d just make a pig’s ear out of it now.

      Now that I think about it, kind of makes me wonder why the Japanese use baseball bats.  Maybe using an exotic foreign implement adds to the sense of occasion?

      1. “… kind of makes me wonder why the Japanese use baseball bats.”

        This is known as the “Gallagher Effect”

    2. All watermelons used to look like that. They started growing the round ones a few decades back when people stopped having six children.

  12. I’ve heard stories about unsuspecting Japanese tourists getting duped by “watermelon con men” when abroad in foreign lands.

    The con goes like so: person carrying a watermelon accidentally bumps into Japanese traveler; drops melon. Japanese person is aghast that such an expensive fruit got smashed; apologizes profusely. Con man sez something like “well this is a bummer, now I’m out [INSERT_SUM_HERE] ’cause that melon was for [SPECIAL_OCCASION].” And if it goes according to plan, they handily fleece the horrified Japanese person for $50-$100 or so because the melons are priced so crazy in Japanland.

  13. Looking at it, it reminds me of those Fisher Price Corn Popper kids’ toys.  And since the linked article says it can be used to as a heater too, with a little tinkering, you could probably use it to pop popcorn on the go.

  14. I’m seeing here the cultural equivalent of jumping the shark. 

    “What ever happened to the Japanese?”
    “Mobile watermelon coolers.”

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