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  • - [Narrator] This melon cost $200.

  • But that's nothing compared to the price

  • that some can reach.

  • And in May 2019, two melons from Hokkaido sold

  • at auction for 5 million yen.

  • That's just over $45,000.

  • So what is it that makes this fruit so expensive?

  • From the Yubari King to the Andes,

  • the Higo green melon, and many more,

  • melons are grown up and down Japan,

  • and they're serious business.

  • The fruit isn't traditionally something you'd pick up

  • as a snack in Japan, but is a luxury that often plays

  • a big part in Japan's gift-giving culture.

  • And they're not just admired for their taste,

  • but for their looks as well.

  • Crown melons are one of the most renowned varieties.

  • Go into a high-end fruit store in Tokyo,

  • and you're likely to see their signature stickers.

  • The melons are only grown in Shizuoka prefecture,

  • in central Japan, and can cost you over $200 each.

  • Unlike the $5 mass-produced melons

  • you're likely to come across in a Western supermarket,

  • crown melons take constant care and attention to grow.

  • Fumiyoshi Chujyo's family has been growing these melons

  • for 60 years at his farm near Fukuroi.

  • The farmers give the melons constant attention and care.

  • Each melon takes 100 days to grow, and the fruit is grown

  • all year round.

  • There are 20 slightly different varieties

  • of crown melon seeds grown depending on the season.

  • The raised beds allow the farmers to control

  • the amount of water each plant gets exactly,

  • and air conditioning and heating keep the temperatures

  • constant year-round.

  • Crown melons have four grades: fuji, yama, shiro, and yuki.

  • Any melons with even minor defects are marked as yuki,

  • and the top three grades are marked on their sugar content

  • and perfect appearance.

  • 55% of the melons make shiro grade, the third grade,

  • 25% are yama, and 0.1%, or one in 1,000

  • of all melons harvested, are graded as fuji,

  • the highest grade possible.

  • After around 50 days, the plants begin to flower,

  • and baby fruits start to appear.

  • But the hard work has only just begun.

  • This work is all done entirely by hand,

  • and it isn't just about getting the taste right,

  • but perfecting the appearance too.

  • As the fruits get larger on each plant,

  • they are carefully wrapped in white paper to protect them.

  • Once this net pattern has developed,

  • each melon is even massaged and polished by hand.

  • It is then covered to protect it from the sun

  • for its final growing period.

  • The farmers can wear through multiple pairs of

  • white gloves polishing these melons.

  • But the work of the agricultural cooperatives

  • also keeps their prices high.

  • The Shizuoka Crown Melon company oversee the distribution

  • and checks on melons from over 200 farmers.

  • They ensure that the quality remains high

  • and that the prices aren't undercut.

  • The resulting taste is undeniably incredible.

  • Each fruit has a complex balance of flavors

  • and is perfectly juicy and sweet.

  • But you'll have to decide for yourself

  • whether the high price is worth it for the taste.

  • Despite the cost, there's a big market

  • for these fruits across Japan.

  • Consumers are willing to pay to ensure that their

  • gift is perfect, especially knowing the work that has

  • gone into producing them.

  • The melons are often sold in individual presentation boxes,

  • sitting on silk or hay, or tied with a ribbon.

  • And when choosing the perfect gift,

  • the high price is often seen as a signifier of quality.

  • So what about those $45,000 melons?

  • At the start of the season, the perfect first fruits

  • are auctioned off and are often sought after

  • as a trophy for local businesses to bid on.

  • A new record is set for the sale of these fruits

  • almost every year, and it doesn't look like their price

  • is going down anytime soon.

- [Narrator] This melon cost $200.

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Why Japanese Melons Are So Expensive | So Expensive

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    Elma Kung posted on 2019/10/22
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