Kabosu Citrus – Japanese lemons

Reiko, our lovely Japanese friend, brought over a huge bag of Japanese lemons and obviously, we were thrilled to get so many precious Japanese lemon fruits!! She called them Yuzu’s, a Japanese variety of lemon/citron. But after a closer look, taste, and examination, they look more like Japanese Kabosu. Kabosu and Yuzu are both very similar, with slight differences in flavor and texture. Most folks can’t tell the difference between Japanese yuzu and kabosu, but we’ve been able to study and eat them enough to recognize the difference.e

Based on what we tasted in Japan and what we harvested from our Yuzu tree, the Japanese variety of lemons that Reiko brought over had much more juice than Yuzu. We’re certain these are kabosu because they have more juice, smaller seeds and thinner rind than Yuzu.

Yuzu (left) vs. Kabosu (right)

What are Kabosu? How are they different from Yuzu?

  • Kabosu is a Japanese lemon that is related to the Yuzu, but has more juice than Yuzu. More info on Kabosu from UCR Citrus Research
  • Kabosu usually has a thinner rind , less pith and less seeds
  • Kabosu can be harvested and juice when while they’re still green (kinda like a lime). When left on the tree for a long period, they will turn yellow. Yuzu can also be used in their green and ripe yellow stages.
  • Kabosu is not as sour as Yuzu. Also, from all the Kabosu that we tasted in Japan and from Reiko, we find that Kabosu is a little less “floral” fragrance when compared to the yuzu
  • Yuzu has much less juice and more peel, but Kabosu has more juice that makes it especially wonderful for cooking. Although the Kabosu we have doesn’t have the strong fragrance that Yuzu has, Kabosu is much more versatile because of it’s higher juice content.
  • Overall, Kabosu is an amazingly fragrant and delicious lemon. It’s a wonderful addition to any garden!

Our Yuzu tree produces different looking and tasting fruit than all those that Reiko brought over. We’re almost 100% certain that these are Kabosu’s, especially after our trip to Japan in September that was filled with Yuzu, Sudachi and Kabosu searching, we’re pretty sure these are Kabosu.

We’re thrilled to have so much Japanese kabosu citrus lemons because kabosu is so rare!

Thank you Reiko for all the wonderful Kabosu lemons!! xoxoxo

More posts about Japanese Lemons: Yuzu & Kabosu:


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Kuulei

    Aloha, enjoyed your post about yuzu snd kabosu. Bought a “yuzu” plant but the fruit looks more like a kabosu or something else. Wish I could gind more info on kabosu. Mahalo, Kuulei

  2. serge

    Great post and fabulous web site. Glad I stumbled across it!

    I was looking at the cross-sections of the yuzu and what Reiko has as well as pictures of other kabosu.

    I wonder if her fruit is not kabosu, but might be yuko (sometimes called yuku and considered at times to be a ‘sweet variety of yuzu’ which might explain her misnaming the fruit).


    Do you mind asking Reiko is she knows anything about the history of her tree?

    Thanks, and, again, great work!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Thanks for the info. We only knew Reiko casually and haven’t seen her in a couple years. We hadn’t heard about yuko until now and will have to keep our eyes out for it.

      T & D

  3. Don Kolle

    Where can I find Kabosu trees?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Oh yeah, here is one more link talking about buying them: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/citrus/msg0316085129992.html

      UC Riverside has an amazing department in regards to citrus and they have a budwood sale at least once a year.

    2. White on Rice Couple

      On very rare occasions we’ve seen them at some Asian nurseries here in Southern California, but that was before they started tightening regulations due to Citrus Greening. We’ve seen some online nurseries offer Yuzu and even Sudachi, maybe try contacting them to find a lead about getting the Kabosu. In our area we also have a rare fruit growers club. If you can find one similar in your area they might be able to helps as well. Good luck!

  4. ann kenny

    I’ve been enjoying your blog and I was wondering if you could help me. We have quite a collection of citrus fruit trees but are having a very hard time finding kabosu fruit or trees. Do you know anyone who might sell me seeds. We live in Portugal.

  5. Tokyo Terrace

    I often buy these in Tokyo grocery stores when they are still slightly green. I leave them on the counter for a day or two and they begin to turn yellow. The first time I saw them I thought they were limes, but when I cut the citrus in half the flesh was yellow and the rind was very thin, just like in you photo above. Great post about Kabosu!

  6. Carole


    UC Riverside does have both varieties but only Sudachi bud wood is available right now commercially as far as know. I remember years ago I’d have to drive 60 miles for Kaffir lime leaves for Thai recipes until I was finally able to locate and purchase a tree, maybe Kabosu will be released and be easier to find someday also.

    Chris in Vienna,
    Hi, I started my Sudachi from seed but you can order fresh Sudachi fruit in season (which I believe is Dec-Feb or March) from White Dove Passion Fruit Farm (Santa Paula, Ca)…


    (Chris is there some way I can contact you)?

    White On Rice Couple,
    I also just wanted to mention how much I enjoy your website. I’m always going through your recipe index and your gardening pages getting ideas and your pictures are so beautiful. Its a really nice way to spend my down time…Thank you very much!!!

  7. Chris of Vienna

    To Carol Byrd,
    hi, I believe Sudachi and Kabosu are the same? I have been on a hunt for Sudachi trees and have been unsuccessful. Did you start yours from seed or did you purchase a plant? Could you provide any info that might help me in my search?

    1. White On Rice Couple

      Sudachi and Kabosu are definitely different. We had them both while traveling in Japan and we’ll see them occasionally in Southern California in Japanese markets. We’ve yet to find anyone selling the plants, however.

  8. Carole Byrd

    Wonderful article…Thanks! I grow Sudachi and Yuzu but have never seen Kabosu, do you know where I might find some fruit or seeds in the central valley (near Stockton, Ca)?

    1. Hitochi Morimoto

      I am looking for Sudachi tree to purchase. Can you help?

      rgs hm

      1. frank t.

        Hi Hitochi

        Yuzu tree $50 and Sudachi tree $55 in 5-gal. at Golden Nursery San Mateo CA 94401.


      2. White on Rice Couple

        Besides the places listed above in the other comments, some of your local nurseries may be able to special order it, especially if you are in the Los Angeles area and try some of the nurseries in the San Gabriel area. Online we’ve only found it at GrowQuest. We happened to have noticed it while looking for an Australian finger lime. We’ve never ordered from them before but at least it is a start for you.
        Good luck,
        T & D

  9. Carinne (ToGetHer One)

    I was wondering which lemon fruit was in my back garden. Thanks for the info. I have to also thank the previous owner to my house offering me such generous rarity.

  10. Dawn (KitchenTravels)

    Liking the new blog format. Looking forward to more garden posts, since I am a green thumb in training!

    1. White On Rice Couple

      Dawn- thank you and we’ll keep posting as much as we can!

  11. Fern @ Life on the Balcony

    Do you guys know of a grocery store South LA or OC where I can try out different fruits like these? I’d love to get out of my rut and try some new-to-me fruits and veggies.

    1. Michael

      You can find Sudachi and Yuzu at Nijiya in Santa Monica when it is in season…Sudachi is only in season for a very short period around October to November…They always have high quality citrus…enjoy..

    2. White On Rice Couple

      Fern- Try Marukai and Mitsuwa in Costa Mesa. They are both Japanese grocery stores and have a great selection of Japanese produce!

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