Melon (uri)

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Oriental Melon , gourd (uri)

***** Location: Japan, other regions
***** Season: See below
***** Category: Plant


Oriental melon, Cucumis melo var. makuwa
makuwa uri 真桑瓜

CLICK for more CUCUMIS photos

hisago 瓠 Hisago gourd, bottle gourd
Lagenaria siceraria

kigo for late summer

Melon is a term used for various members of the Cucurbitaceae family with fleshy fruit. Melon can refer to either the plant or the fruit, which is a false berry. Many different cultivars have been produced, particularly of muskmelons. The plant grows as a vine.

Genus Momordica Bitter melon
Genus Benincasa Winter melon
Genus Citrullus - Watermelon
Genus Cucumis
.... C. metuliferus - Horned melon
.... C. melo : Muskmelon (Cucumis melo)
..... Makuwa Group is the "Japanese cantaloupe".
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


kigo for late summer

melon, meron メロン
musk melon マスクメロン
western melon, seiyoo meron 西洋メロン

oriental melon, gourd, Japanese cantaloupe, gourd 瓜 uri

hisago no hana 瓢の花 (ひさごのはな) gourd flowers
..... fukube no hana ふくべの花(ふくべのはな)
hyootan no hana 瓢箪の花(ひょうたんのはな)hyotan flowers
hana hisago 花瓢(はなひさご)

humanity kigo

melon thief, uri nusutto 瓜盗人 (うりぬすっと)
uriban 瓜番 (うりばん) guardian of gourds / melons
..... urimori 瓜守(うりもり)
urigoya 瓜小屋(うりごや)hut for the gourd guardian
..... uribangoya 瓜番小屋(うりばんごや)

When the melons get ripe in the fields, small huts are set up for the guardians, who have to watch out day and night for thieves.


gourd flowers, uri no hana 瓜の花
hisago nae 瓢苗 (ひさごなえ) gourd seedlings
kigo for early summer

watermelon, suika スイカ 西瓜
kigo for early autumn

スイカだるま Watermelon-Daruma

hayatouri, hayato uri 隼人瓜 (はやとうり)
Sechium edule
kigo for late autumn
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


. hechima, ito-uri 糸瓜, 蛮瓜,布瓜 Sponge gourd

. hyootan, fukube 瓢箪 gourd, calabash

. kabocha 南瓜 (かぼちゃ) pumpkin, squash

. toogan とうがん(冬瓜) white gourd-melon; a wax gourd  


Snake and Two Melons
魚屋北渓 Hokkei (1780 - 1850)

- quote -
Hokkei was one of the best students of Hokusai, and his pieces were of a very high quality of craftsmanship.
The snake is symbolic of great cunning at a supernatural level. Having it amongst the melons makes it auspicious for family unity.
- source : paradisebound.ca/product/totoya-hokkei -


Some FOOD related kigo for all summer

rubbing gourds uri momi 瓜揉 (うりもみ)
..... uri momu 瓜揉む(うりもむ)
rubbed gourd, momi uri 揉瓜(もみうり)
cutting gourds, uri kizamu 瓜きざむ(うりきざむ)
rubbing cucumbers, kyuuri momi 胡瓜揉(きゅうりもみ)
gourd with namasu dressing, uri namasu 瓜膾(うりなます)
The vegetables are cut in small pieces and a dressing of vinegar and soy sauce is poured over them.

pickled gourd, urizuke 瓜漬 (うりづけ)
..... tsuke-uri, tsuke uri 漬瓜(つけうり)
pickled cucumbers, kyuurizuke 胡瓜漬(きゅうりづけ)
pickled Shiro-uri, shiro urizuke 越瓜漬(しろうりづけ)

Various types of uri are pickled in . nukamiso . or prepared as Narazuke.
These pickles bring appetite back during the hot summer months.

drying gourds, hoshi-uri 乾瓜 (ほしうり)
..... 干瓜(ほしうり)
"drying before a thunderstorm",
kaminariboshi 雷干(かみなりぼし)

After cutting the vegetable and salting them for one night, they are dried in the sun. For eating, they are again put in water to remove the salt and a dressing of vinegar is used.
For kaminari, the gourd is cut in a spiral and hung to dry, but usually in the evening there is a summer thunderstorm (yuudachi), so when the farmers hear the thunder they have to run and bring the spirals under a roof.

Japanese Rerefence: How to make summer vegetable pickles


A Japanese saying for two people who resemble each other without being twins is

like two melon-halves, uri futatsu 瓜二つ

There is a difference between the watermelon, suika, and
a sweet melon, meron, and an uri-type of the Oriental melon, a type of gourd.


Matsuo Basho liked makuwa uri very much and wrote quite a few haiku about them.

He wrote this haiku for his student Shidoo :

. Enomoto Shidoo 槐本之道 Shido .
Tookoo - 東湖 - Toko "East Lake"
(with a discussion of the haiku)

ware ni niru na futatsu ni wareshi makuwa uri

Don't be like me
even if we resemble
two halves of a melon

Tr. Stephen Addiss

koi futatsu remon wa umaku kiremasen

I have two loves -
it is difficult to cut a lemon

Matsumoto Kyoko 松本恭子

. Honkadori in Haiku .

More of Basho's haiku about melons, see below.

Worldwide use


The Bitter Gourd, called 'Karela' in Hindi, is eaten as a vegetable in many parts of India. The fruit is boiled or fried and cooked with salt and spices to eliminate its bitter taste. Its juice taken raw is considered helpful in diabetes.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
Momordica charantia

bitter gourd -
even when cooked
the kids make faces

Sunil Uniyal, New Delhi, India.
May 2009, Kigo Hotline

The bitter gourd GOYA (gooya ゴーヤ) is a speciality of Okinawa in Japan.


"melon/cool melon/watermelon"
kigo for summer

my kids from the balcony happy:

seeds everywhere
spitting against no wind ...
cool melon

Heike Gewi, Yemen
YEMEN Saijiki


smell of watermelon ...
the high sun factor face block
just purchased

Alan Summers

Things found on the way

. Legends about Plants 植物と伝説 shokubutsu to densetsu .
Urikohime 瓜子姫 The princess born from a gourd
and many more


Matsuo Basho

uri tsukuru kimi ga are na to yuusuzumi

You, who raised melons--
if only you were here too,
taking the night air

Written in 1687 貞亨4年

Tr. Steven D. Carter
"Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology"

One of his dear friends had gone into seclusion and there where no more melons in his garden.

you who raised melons:
"would that you were here"
in the evening coolness

Tr. Barnhill

This maybe written with respect to the following waka
from the collection Sankashuu 山家集 Sanka Shu by Saigyo:


matsu no ne no Iwata no kishi no yuusuzumi
kimi ga are nato omouhoyuru kana

In the evening coolness
on the bank of Iwata
by the roots of a pine
I think
"I wish you were here" .

Tr. Barnhill

Saigyo and
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

. . . . .

asatsuyu ya nadete suzushiki uri no tsuchi

morning dew -
the cool earth on the melon
when I pat it

Tr. Gabi Greve

Basho talks about the makuwa uri, an Oriental melon 真桑瓜. He liked to pat them to feel the coolness. This haiku was written in 1694.
CLICK for more photos
CLICK for more photos.

The following are different versions of this one.


asa-tsuyu ni yogorete suzushi uri no doro

In the morning dew
Dirty, but fresh,
The muddy melon.

Basho, tr. Blyth

In monring dew,
dirty, but oh so very cool--
mud on the melon.

tr. Carter

Wet with morning dew
and splotched with mud, the melon
looks especially cool

Tr. alan chng

Ueda gives a version of the haiku as:

asatsuyu ni yogorete suzushi uri no tsuchi

in the morning dew
spotted with mud, and how cool--
melons on the soil

ware ni niru na futatsu ni wareshi makuwauri

don't rsemble me--
cut in half
a musk melon

tr. Ueda, who gives the following note:
"Basho gave this hokku to Emoto Tooko (also known as Shido, 1659-1712), a young merchant in Naniwa who wanted to become his student in haikai. 'A melon cut in half ' is an idiomatic phrase in Japanese describing two persons who look almost identical."

mi hitotsu o moteatsukaeru suika kana

Able to look after
Its own self,--
The melon.

tr. Blyth

and translated by Sam Hamill:

All by itself,
that beautiful melon,
entirely self-sufficient

(suika is a watermelon)

Contributions by Larry Bole:


kodomora yo hiragao sakinu uri mukan

bindweed is blooming
let's peel a melon

Tr. Reichhold

bindweed flowers have opened,
I'll peel a melon

Tr. Ueda

noonflowers have bloomed,
and I'll peel a melon

Tr. Barnhill

Barnhill mentions two earlier versions:
'iza kodomo hirugao sakinu uri mukan'

"hey children!
the noonflowers have bloomed ,
and I'll peel a melon"
'iza kodomo hirugao sakaba uri mukan'

"hey children!
if the noonflowers have bloomed
I'll peel a melon".


hatsu makuwa yotsu ni ya tatan wa ni kiran
(はつまくわ よつにやきらん わにきらん)
hatsu makuwa yotsu no ya kiran wa ni kiran

the first Makuwa melon -
shall we cut it - say - in quarters
or in round slices ?

Written in 元禄2年6月23日, in Sakata, Oku no Hosomichi.
He stayed at the home of 近江屋三郎兵衛 / Abumiya Gyokushi 近江屋玉志, where they enjoyed the fruit in the cool evening.

This hokku has the cut marker YA in the middle of line 2.

Oku no Hosomichi - - - - Station 31 - Sakata 酒田 - - -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


utsukushiki sono hime uri ya kisaki zane

Written in 寛文12年, Basho age 29
He had left his homeland, Iga Ueno, and decided to take permanent residence in Edo.

how beautiful
is this princess melon !
an oval queen's face

himeuri 姫瓜 princess melon is a kind of
. WKD : makuwa uri 真桑瓜 .
Oriental melon, Cucumis melo var. makuwa
and toogan 冬瓜 white gourd-melon; a wax gourd .
- - - - - More hokku by Basho on this link.

During the sixth lunar month, girls played with these melons.
With writing ink (sumi) and white for make-up (o-shiroi) they painted a face and bound the plant with stems of the auspicious mizuhiki plant (Antenoron filiforme) to make a band they could hang around the neck.

urizanegao, urizane-gao 瓜実顔 is an oval face, like this melon.

There is a waka in the Makura Zooshi 枕草子 Makura Zoshi
by Sei Shoonagon 清少納言:

utsukushiki mono
uri ni egakitaru chigo no kao

Beautiful things!
The face of a child has been painted on a melon.

source : www.konishidc.com
peeling melons


yanagigoori katani wa suzushi hatsu makuwa

his wicker boxes
carry the coolness
of the first Makuwa melon


from a haibun called "Gourd of the Four Mountains" :

mono hitotsu waga yo wa karoki hisago kana

just one possession,
my world light
as a gourd

Tr. Barnhill

one thing
that lights my world
a rice gourd

Tr. Reichhold

Basho's disciples Sanpuu (1647-1732), a wealthy fishmonger, and Bunrin were responsible for supplying Basho's needs. Rice was stored in a dried gourd hung from the rafters. The light color of the gourd made it look like a lantern, but it also contained the energy that
kept Basho alive and glowing.
There is also the idea that due to Basho's poverty he had no lantern other than the rice gourd.
Comment by Reichhold

Discussing this translation
Translating Haiku Forum, December 2008

karoki, karui ... light, easygoing

. mono hitotsu
hisago wa karuki
waga yo kana .

Hokku by Basho about FOOD .

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

hito kitara kawazu to nare yo hiyashi uri

melons in cold water,
listen, if someone comes,
turn into frogs

Tr. Chris Drake

This summer hokku is from Issa's diary in the 6th month (July) of 1813, the year Issa received his inheritance. In the 6th month his diary shows he was mostly traveling around near his hometown. He was probably in the area near Zenkoji Temple visiting fellow poets and students when he wrote this. In another work Issa quotes this hokku and indicates that 蛙, the character for frog, is to be pronounced kaeru.

Issa seems to have placed a few mottled green melons about the size of honeydew melons in a cold-running stream or possibly the neighborhood well to cool for several hours, since water in ordinary tubs is warmed by the high temperatures during the "dog days" of summer. Perhaps Issa wants to treat another haikai poet who is letting him stay at his house. Issa worries, however, since the melons are delicious and he's leaving them where anyone could take them. And most people felt they had the right to take melons left in public places, as Issa ironically suggests in an earlier hokku from 1804:

hiyashi-uri futsuka tatedomo dare mo konu

melons in cold water
for two whole days
and no one's come

Surprisingly, no one has come and taken the cooling melons, though they've been left in a stream for a long time. Usually, it seems, melons left to cool in a stream didn't stay there for two days. And yet the skin of a melon does look a bit like that of a big frog....

As Japanese scholars have pointed out, Issa gives another hint about the melons by making an allusion in the hokku. Issa's contemporaries enjoyed reading a classic 10th-century book of short tales and waka entitled Ise Tales (or Tales of Ise; Ise monogatari) that claimed to be about the famous waka poet and lover Ariwara no Narihira. Issa alludes to episode 6 of this famous book, in which the protagonist runs off from Kyoto with a high-ranking young woman on his back. Encountering a thunderstorm, he puts her in an old, crumbling storehouse near the road and then leaves her, standing guard outside beside the door. When dawn comes, the man goes back inside and finds that the woman has disappeared -- eaten up by a demon "in a single bite" during a peal of thunder that hid her cries. Later it's revealed that the woman's brothers secretly came and took her back home.

By alluding to this episode, Issa seems to be suggesting that if you leave something precious or valuable unattended or lying around, it will naturally disappear. He realizes he's giving up his right to the melons by leaving them in a public place, so all he can rely on is make-believe and fantasy to give him courage. I suppose this is a kind of black humor, since Issa knows there's a good chance the melons will be gone when he comes back, but the thought of possibly being able to eat a chilled melon or two in the heat of summer is too powerful to resist. Still, Issa's "and yet" here, as in other hokku, can be a powerful form of resistance to prosaic resignation.

Chris Drake

kawahori ga naka de naki keri kome fukube / kome-hisago*

a bat
inside it crying --
the rice gourd

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the beginning of the 4th month (May) of 1816, a few days before Issa's first son Sentaro will be born (on 4/14) at the house of his wife's parents, a common practice. Issa went with her there and later left to visit some of his students, since he had to make his living as a haikai master. (In 1816 Issa was at home 154 days and away 228 days.) The hokku was presumably written at the home of one of his students, and Issa's headnote seems to indicate he's a bit travel-weary and is anxiously hoping his wife will give birth safely. The headnote says Issa's been away from his home village for a hundred days, an expression that also means "for many days." The high, piercing cries of bats can be quite plaintive and even moving, and Issa hears one inside a large round or oval gourd with an opening at the top that serves as a small rice bin holding rice to be cooked. The image suggests Issa may be wondering about the child that's about to be born and whether it is safe and well. Perhaps the bat also sounds somewhat lost and half-homeless, a bit like Issa at the moment.

Basho also kept his rice in a gourd, and he said it was his only substantial possession:

mono hitotsu waga-yo wa karoki hisago kana

all I own --
my life as light
as this gourd

* For the reading kome-hisago I follow Issa's collected works 3.419 and Maruyama Kazuhiko's edition of Issa's Seventh Diary 2.222.

Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 Issa in Edo .


- - - - - Yosa Buson - - - - -

adabana wa ame ni utarete uribatake

fruitless blossoms
are beaten by the rain -
melon fields

Tr. Gabi Greve

雷に 小家は焼かれて 瓜のはな
kaminari ni koya wa yakarete uri no hana

the thunderstorm
burned down the hut -
gourd blossoms

Tr. Gabi Greve

- - - - - and this is the next scene

uri koya no tsuki ni ya owasu inkunshi

this watchman
now without the pepo hut
under the moon

Tr. Hideo Suzuki

uri family - 瓜果 pepo, Cucurbitaceae (gourd family)

- - - - -

wagasono no makuwa mo nusumu kokoro kana

Even in my own field,
I pick a melon
As if stealing.

Tr. Shoji Kumano

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .



yoshizu shite kakou nagare ya hiyashi-uri

In the creek,
reed blinds shielding it--
a melon we're chilling

Masaoka Shiki
tr. Watson


sun sets on the trees...
while drums beat gourd rattles shake
and the spirits dance

- Shared by Pat Geyer ‎
Joys of Japan, March 2012

the tip of the blade
in the heart of the melon
~ summer love

- Shared by Bret Mars ‎
Joys of Japan, March 2012

Related words

***** Snake gourd, lit: Crow melon, crow gourd,
karasu uri, karasuuri 烏瓜
Fruit of Trichosanthes cucumeroides.
kigo for late autumn

***** wild boar baby, young wild boar,
uriboo 瓜坊

kigo for late autumn

***** Snake Gourd (karasu-uri, Japan)

***** Cucumber (kyuuri) Japan
aki kyuuri 秋胡瓜(あききゅうり)autumn cucumber
yomaki kyuuri 夜蒔胡瓜 (よまききゅうり) "cucumbers sown at night"
yomaki uri よまき瓜(よまきうり)"gourd sown at night"
yomaki ingen よまき隠元豆(よまきいんげん)ingen beans sown at night

***** . yuugao 夕顔 (ゆうがお) bottle gourd
Lagenaria siceraria var. hispida


photo : Linda Wishon, facebook

no better way
to show happiness -
watermelon fun

WASHOKU ... Japanese Food SAIJIKI





Gabi Greve said...

smell of watermelon ...
the high sun factor face block
just purchased

Alan Summers, UK

"sundog haiku journal: an australian year"
(Alan's first collection)
sunfast press 1997 reprinted 1998
California State Library - Main Catalog Call Number : HAIKU S852su 1997

Gabi Greve said...

"Grow, grow, grow
buzz the bees

uri ni nare nare nare to ya hachi sawagu


by Issa, 1809

Or: "buzzes the bee."

Tr. David Lanoue

Gabi Greve said...

Tsuchiura no hisago ningyoo 土浦のひさご人形 Hisago dolls



Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

mizuoke ni unazuki-au ya uri nasubi

in a water basin
they nodd to each other -
gourds and eggplants

Tr. Gabi Greve

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

- - - - - Matsuo Basho - - - - - 

uri no kawa muita tokoro ya Rendaino

we had just peeled
the skin of the melon -
Rendaino cemetery

about graveyards

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

yamakage ya mi o yashinawan uribatake

mountain cove—
I would nourish my body
with this field of melons

Tr. Barnhill
In Mino, staying with
- Yasukawa Rakugo 安川落梧 -

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

The ends of shiro-uri, oriental pickling gourd, are sliced off and the seeds removed to create a hollow tube. Stuffed with red peppers, the shiro-uri is then marinated in soy sauce. This pickle, a specialty of the area around Narita airport near Tokyo...

Teppo Fudoozuke 鉄砲不動漬 Teppo Fudo Pickles

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

uri suika nennen korori korori kana

cantaloupes, watermelons--

Shinji Ogawa notes that the phrase, nennen koroi is a phrase from a lullaby, like "rock-a-bye baby."
Issa is imagining that the cantaloupes and watermelons are sleeping.
David Lanoue