Japan’s Cadillac of melons Yubari melons fetches record 2 million yen

yubari1.jpgThe season’s first pair of Japan’s luxurious Yubari melons were sold at ¥20,00000 (US$ 16,634.), the highest bidding price ever, at a Sapporo auction in the northern island of Hokkaido. Marui Imai Inc, a Sapporo-based department store, bought the upmarket cantaloupes for the record price, surpassing the previous record of 800,000 yen for two such melons. The two melons were put on sale at Marui Imai’s flagship outlet with a price tag of 1 million yen each. The orange-fleshed Yubari melon, similar in appearance and size to the common cantaloupe, has become a Japanese favorite for giving as a gift of thanks to friends or bosses. In the food section of large department stores, Yubari melons – reputed to be Japan’s Cadillac of melons – are often sold for upwards of 15,000 yen (a generic melon might fetch 500 yen).

yubari2.jpgSpecial apples and strawberries can likewise be sold for exorbitant sums, but as far as luxury fruit goes, nothing tops a nice melon for prestige. Shape, skin netting pattern, sweetness, and texture are key factors in the price. A top-grade perfectly round Yubari number with a smooth skin could command over 20,000 yen. A hybrid created in 1960, seedlings of the Yubari King are planted under vinyl greenhouses in February and 105 days later the first melons are carefully handpicked. The harvest continues until August. Only 154 of about 230 farmers in the former coal-mine town of Yubari have the right to plant the melon seeds.