Japan has viewed fruit as a luxury item for centuries. Where produce comes from and how it looks is very important in a country that barely uses 12% of is own land mass for crop production, most of which is dedicated to rice. Being an island, much of the country’s food has to be shipped in, meaning they also incur added transportation costs.
Japan actually limits their fruit imports to countries that will provide the high quality they demand, such as the U.S., Australia, and South Africa, all of which are relatively far for shipping of delicate fruit. The fruit that is grown in Japan tends to bring ridiculous prices, especially at auction. Interestingly, for many Japanese, they don’t see a reason to import cheaper fruit from other countries because there is no reason for fruit to be cheaper – exotic and expensive fruit is a popular luxury product in Japan, often given as gifts to mark important events.
According to legend, this “high-brow” view of fruit began in 1834, when the wife of a samurai shrewdly transformed the family’s discount fruit store into a premium one by only selecting the best, blemish-free fruit to peddle to those looking to impress their chiefs. Today, there are producers who spend years working to create the perfect product, which is why Japan holds four of the top five spots for most expensive fruit in the world, shared below. Pretty amazing how price is in the eye of the beholder! (Source: Freshplaza, fruitnet, WSJ, Steemit)
Yubari King Melon - The Yubari King is a particular kind of cantaloupe that is grown in the city of Yubari in Hokkaido, which is the northernmost of the main islands that make up Japan. A perfect example of the Yubari King is not just smooth-surfaced but also perfectly round. Combined with the fact that these fruits tend to be bought in pairs for gifting during the Ghost Festival, it is no wonder that a pair of them once managed to sell for more than $10,000 in US dollars, crazy !!
Densuke Watermelon - I'm told there is no more than about 10,000 of them produced on an annual basis, meaning that there is a fair amount of competition for the limited supplies. However, what stands out about them the most is the fact that its rind is solid black with none of the stripes that most people would expect from watermelons, which makes them rather distinct if not particularly eye-catching. I'm told a Densuke Watermelon has been known to go for as much as $6,000.
Ruby Roman Grapes – You will be shocked to see the size of these grapes. Cultivation first started in the year 2008 in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, and each grape comes in the size of a ping-pong ball, meaning that they are already set apart from other grapes out there. Combined with their brilliant red appearance, a single bunch of these grapes can sell for $4,000.
Tyo No Tamago Mangoes - Which translates to ‘egg of the sun', fetch surprisingly high prices in Japan’s luxury fruit market. Atlas Obscura reported on a normal day Taiyo no Tamago mangoes will sell for upwards of US$50. The reason for the high price tag is the care taken when growing the fruit. Last summer at auction, a pair of the mangoes, meeting the requirements of weighing at least 350g each, with a high sugar content and at least 50% of their skin covered in the signature red hue, sold for $4,500.
Lost Gardens of Heligan Pineapple – Taking the fifth spot and the only winner not fron Japan is the Pineapple from the Lost Gardens of Heligan, which are botanical gardens situated in that southwestern part of England called Cornwall. Now, most people should be somewhat aware of the fact that pineapples are a tropical fruit, which is what contributes to the fact that a single pineapple from this location has been known to fetch prices of up to $15,000. Obviously, pineapples cannot thrive in the English climate, but they are nonetheless capable of growing well with human assistance. In their case, this means growing the pineapples in mud structures filled with manure, which is based on the techniques of a previous era.