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Akebi - a rare, purple fruit you'll only find in Japan

Posted on November 5, 2020


Have you ever heard of the purplish fruit that almost looks like an eggplant? No, it’s not a prune… it’s not a fig… it’s called akebi and it’s only found in Japan. Akebi is a seasonal fruit native to the mountainous Yamagata Prefecture in the Tohoku region of northern Japan. With this autumnal fruit only available for a few short weeks, you’ll likely see this mysterious fruit popping up in local stores if you visit Japan in Fall.


akebi purple fruit

photo by @takoshiho

Akebi has an enticingly bright purple skin that makes you just want to pick it right out of the tree and bite straight into it. But please don’t! The skin is strikingly bitter, so make sure to cut it open to get to the gooey bits first.


akebi fruit

photo by  @takoshiho

The inside of the fruit resembles that of a passionfruit with its black seeds embedded in a translucent pulp. The taste, however, is more akin to that of pear, coconut, and melon… it has a natural sweetness to it that sets it apart from other fruits.


 akebi purple fruit store display

photo by @neko_mum

When you are lucky enough to stumble upon the rare fruit at the right season, you’ll notice it isn’t cheap.


akebi with meat stuffing

photo by @takoshiho

This purple specimen can also be cooked and consumed as a vegetable rather than a fruit! Many locals of Yamagata Prefecture attest that cooking it is the preferred way to eat it since the flesh of akebi can be rather bitter, as mentioned before. This Japanese chef has decided to stuff the akebi with meat for a more savory flavor.


grilled akebi with meat

photo by  @takoshiho

It can be grilled, sauteed, or even oven baked. Looks pretty delicious when cooked, if I do say so myself.


Keep your eyes peeled for this local rarity on your next trip!


Written by: Maya Kimura Watts