Japan is known for its expensive fruits. They generally cost much more than other countries. The Japanese take good care of their fresh produce – crisp apples, fleshy peaches, juicy grapes. They scrub it to a shine and pack it individually in white foam wrappers. The country also boasts of a highly developed luxury fruit market. But like everything else it has been a victim of the tightening consumer purse strings. A prized Japanese watermelon fetched nearly $4,000 on Monday at an auction in Sapporo. It sounds great to outsiders but it is actually a steep fall from the fruit’s peak season several years ago. The luxury market in Japan can fetch $400,000 for a single tuna.
The Isetan department store bid the highest to win the coveted fruit for the second consecutive year. The department store is proud of the fact and will have the sweet fruit on display at its Shinjuku outlet in Tokyo. The store had bid 300,000 yen for the fruit and a spokeswoman of the store said if a customer wants the whole fruit it can be sold for 315,000 yen. The Densuke watermelon is a rare fruit. It is solid and black. It almost looks like a bowling ball. The seeds of this variety are not golden but its texture is crispy and the juice is extra sweet.
This rare variety of watermelon is grown exclusively in Hokkaido. Every year, on the first day of the season you normally don’t get more than 100 of the stripe less watermelons. In the heydays of the luxury fruit market the prices had peaked at the Sapporo market in the 2006 and 2007 season. The highest ever price paid for a Densuke watermelon was 650,000 yen, or about $8,100, at the Maruka Asahikawa Wholesale Market in 2007. However, the Densuke is not the most prized of Japan’s watermelons. Yubari melon, even after dropping by 500,000 yen fetched 1 million yen at the Sapporo market.