Japan is famous for the art of growing luxury fruits, such as melons or grapes that worth a small fortune. It is a sign of great respect and appreciation to make a present that is valued at around Y1.6 million (Y16,000), except for the fact that the present is not, for example, a car, but a pair of rare and delicious melons.
Despite its incredible prices, this market is always in demand in Japan.
In July, a single bunch of “Ruby Roman” grapes reportedly sold for Y400,000 ($4,000), making each berry worth Y11,000, the international press reports. In May, a pair of cantaloupe grown in Hokkaido was sold at Y1.6 million.
“Most of our products are for gift purposes, so we collect large and high-grade products from all around Japan,” says Yoshinobu Ishiyama, manager of a branch of Sun Fruits at Tokyo Midtown, a high-end commercial complex that also hosts a Ritz Carlton Hotel.
“We offer rare products. Above all, they have to be delicious,” he says. “You never forget the experience”.
At Sun Fruits, a single white peach – in perfect round shape, full of flavor and about the size of a newborn baby’s head – goes for Y2,625. A bunch of Muscat of Alexandria grapes has a Y7,350 price tag, while square watermelons – grown in plastic boxes and usually for decoration – go for Y5,000. Needless to say, no fruit is bruised and has exactly the right shape.
“The prices are very high because of the care and cost that go into the fruits,” Ishiyama said.
The fruits are usually given as a present to relatives, bosses or business associates to express respect and gratitude.
“You buy these delicious things and share a great time with people who are close to you,” corporate trainer Farhad Kardan said.
“You never forget the experience of having eaten something so delicious. What you pay for is for the quality and the value.”