People picture Japanese traditions as either ceremonial or a part of the pop culture. But Japan’s traditions can’t really be limited to those two categories. And the proof of this is that there is no tradition more Japanese than Watermelon Breaking, or Suikawari.
Summer comes with Watermelon season, and in the beaches throughout Japan children and adult can be seen happily laughing, blindfolded, with a stick, trying to smash a watermelon. This practice is what Japan’s most traditional watermelon related activity is all about.
Watermelon Breaking: The Rules
The premise to Suikawari is simple: People play in turns. And whoever smashes the watermelon, wins. Afterward, everyone gets together to eat the watermelon.
The blindfolded participant spins around in circles, and, dizzy, tries to get close to the watermelon, which is normally placed on a blanket so that it can be eaten later, and break it.
When playing the game, the contestants who are not trying to smash the fruit will attempt to direct the smasher in turn by yelling directions at him, making the whole game a remarkable bonding activity.
Competition of Watermelon Breaking
There is, additionally, an official Suikawari competition, which rules are in base the same as of hobbyists, but with additional restrictions establishes in 1991 by the Japan Suikawari Association:
• The player should be between 5 and 7 meters of the fruit (between 16,4042 and 23 ft.)
• The participant’s blindfold should be made with the association’s approved materials, to ensure that he couldn’t see at all.
• The stick should be 1.2 meters long (4 ft) and have a 5 cm circumference.
• The player will have a time limit of 3 minutes to break a well ripped domestic watermelon.
• The judges need to have eaten at least ten watermelons in the current year and need to assign a score based on the watermelon cut. A perfect mark would be that of a player who clean-cuts his watermelon in exactly half.
Check out this video of a game of Suikawari, where a group of Japanese people invites a foreigner to join:
Watermelon Breaking as a win-win game
Even though the person who successfully smashes the watermelon is declared as winner, Suikawari has no losers, since everyone gets a share of the watermelon afterward. It is a beautiful activity that promotes sharing, healthy eating, and friendship.
So, on your next summer stroll, you can bring a watermelon along and form a group to play Suikawari with, you will not be disappointed. You will bring a piece of Japan to where you are and have a blast while doing it!