TOKYO – A pair of melons from Yubari, a city on Japan’s northern Hokkaido island, fetched on Friday the record price of 5 million yen ($45,600) in the first auction of this year’s agricultural season in the country.
The two cantaloupe variety-melons, characterized by their orange pulp and sweetness, were part of around 1,000 pieces of Yubari brand melons auctioned at the wholesale market in Sapporo, the regional capital, and were bought by beverage maker Pokka Sapporo.
The president of the company, Yoshihiro Iwata, told state broadcaster NHK that his company had bought the melons to help the local economy of Yubari.
The melons will be on public display from Saturday to Wednesday.
This variety of melon is considered to be of especially good quality because it is grown and ripened during a long period of sunny weather and has an almost perfectly round shape, acquired thanks to a regular growth rate.
Auctions of agricultural products in Japan traditionally start around this time of the year, which marks the beginning of the season, and the first few to hit the market – which are sold for exorbitant prices – go under the hammer with much fanfare, with the purchases being valued more as a trophy than to make a profit.