Kyoho Grapes, pronounced /key-oh-ho/ grape, are a unique luxury grape that found its fame in Japan. A Kyoho grape look very similar to the Concord grape but do not be fooled as they’re quite different. Nowadays, you can find Kyoho grapes worldwide, but they are still especially popular within Japan and China — so popular, in fact, that there are trending recipes for the Kyoho grape!
Keep reading to see what makes this luxury fruit unique and culturally significant and to learn if you can grow Kyoho grapes yourself.
History of the Kyoho Grape
Developed by a Japanese breeder Yasushi Oinoue in 1937, the Kyoho grape was created in Shizuoka, Japan, by crossing the Centennial grape and the Ishiharawase grapes. Oinoue was looking to develop a grape similar to the Concord grape with its large size and spectacular sweet flavor. Oinoue knew with a grape this amazing he had to give it a fitting name, and after visiting Mount Fuji, he decided on Kyoho. Kyoho translates to “great or big mountain peak.” Which is a perfect name for the great Kyoho grape that holds so much meaning to the Japanese culture.
It took several years for this grape variety to grow in popularity and become more commercially produced, but that happened in 1957. The Kyoho grape is now one of Asia’s most common grape varieties. Most of these grapes are grown in China and spread through other Asian countries and even in California, USA.
The grapes are continuously under surveillance during the ripening process by artful grape growers. They carefully place paper bags around each bunch to help ward off pests and diseases. Some of these grape bunches can cost 60 dollars. These growers expect nothing but perfection before selling these grapes to high-end fruit parlors across Japan.
Throughout time these grapes have been given and received as spectacular gifts. They are offered as luxury presents for weddings, anniversaries, graduations, and birthdays. In Japan, receiving these grapes is a sign of quality and friendship.
Characteristic of the Kyoho Grape
Kyoho grapes are oblong and grow in clusters. Their skin is smooth, glossy, and thick and ranges from dark violet to black. The skin of these grapes is meant to be removed before consumption which is one significant aspect of these grapes. These grapes are a slip-skin variety meaning the skin can peel away from the flesh without causing damage. The meat of the grape is a translucent green and encases a few tiny seeds that should be discarded when eating.
The Kyoho grapes a mildly acidic and very sweet. These grapes taste similar to the Concord grape with high sugar content. The tannins in the skins give the dark, dramatic color but tend to have a sour, bitter taste when consumed. Depending on personal preference, some prefer to eat the entire grape as they are perfectly safe to consume, and others peel the skin before consuming. The seeds themselves have a bitter taste and could be discarded along with the skins but are also perfectly safe to eat.
In Japan, the Kyoho grapes are commonly served as dessert but served as table grapes or snacking grapes. You typically see these grapes atop beautiful fruit tarts in Japanese bakeries. They go well with many kinds of cheese and can be added to salads and parfaits.
Because of the beautiful sweetness, the Kyoho grapes are wildly popular used in cocktails. The Kyoho smash is a delicious Asian-inspired rum drink perfect for a warm spring day. These grapes are excellent for desserts, jams and compotes because of their high sugar content. Some popular recipes are:
A wildly trendy candy sweeping Japan is the Kyoho grape jelly candy, a jelly sphere filled with the sweet juice of the Kyoho grape. Indeed something you do not see every day but delicious non the less.
Health Benefits of the Kyoho Grape
Grapes have fantastic health benefits. Filled with vitamins and nutrients, the Kyoho grapes are found to aid digestive health and reduce inflammation. You can find vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, iron, and B vitamins within the Kyoho grape.
Growing the Kyoho Grape
The Japanese take these grapes very seriously and provide exceptional care when planting and sowing these grapes. The Kyoho grape cultivation in Japan is considered an art form. They follow a strictly controlled growing, pruning, shaping, and harvesting process. But this is why these grapes are seen as a high luxury to have. Even the selling of these grapes looks as if they are being presented at the finest jewelry store. So you may be wondering, “can I grow these Kyoho grapes at home?” and the answer is simple, yes!
Of course, when growing the Kyoho grapes in your backyard, you may not be holding the same strict schedule the Japanese growers keep, but you can still produce a majestic grape.
Kyoho Grape Growing Basics
The Kyoho grapes can grow in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 9.
When planting and growing grapes at home, they first need a support structure. An arbor or trellis would do great but would need to be at least 3 feet in height and 1 foot in length to handle the growth of the Kyoho grape.
They need about 6 hours of full sunlight and need to be planted in well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Watering should occur every day, but they are highly drought resistant once the plant is established.
Kyoho grapes are self-fertile and will start to bear fruit 2 to 3 years after being planted.
Harvesting season is around mid-august.
These grapes are known to handle cold winters and snowy climates and come back each year more impressive than the last.
If you are looking for more than just the basics, you can read more with our article about managing your growing grapes.
Purchasing the Kyoho Grape
If you are thinking of buying your very own Kyoho grape plant to grow, you are going to have to do some online shopping or reach out to specialty growers in your area to see if they ever provide these plants for sale. Online you can find a few retailers that ship the plant right to your front door if stock is available.
When looking for the Kyoho grapes, they won’t be on the shelves at any regular supermarket. Most of the time, you can find them in specialty produce stores or higher-end markets. You may need to reach out to a produce market to see if and when they have stock.
In Japan, you can find these grapes in luxurious fruit markets selling only the highest quality to bakeries and small eateries that showcase these great grapes in many ways.
The Kyoho grape is delicious, magnificent, and culturally significant to Japan, making this grape variety special and unique. With its large size, sweet flesh, and dark skin, you know you are in for a treat with these great grapes. Why not try your hand at harvesting these grapes at home?
Have you grown or eaten Kyoho grapes? We would love to hear from you in the comments below if you’ve ever tried them before! And, of course, if you want to learn about other fantastic grape varieties, you can read more of our grape blog posts.