It sounds unbelievable, but remarkably so, it is true.
Japan is obsessed with luxury fruit, and the cantaloupe is the goddess of the bunch with its delicate sweet taste and gorgeous pastel orange color. The nation’s more than 120 million people hold fruit in high regard and often give fruit as gifts because it holds such a significant status in the Japanese culture. To many there, fruit has become like art and strongly valued and worth the pricey cost of almost 15,000 yen.
Paying $125 for a single melon and even higher is not unusual there, and a long history of fruit adoration stretches as far back as the 13th Century. Back then, Samurais presented melons to their king as a symbol of loyalty. Farmers also shared their fruit with neighbors, hoping they would return the favor and assist farmers in their harvest.
Many generations later, and high-end fruit remains expensive in Japan, where it is carefully grown and nurtured before it hits the store shelves of luxury fruit stores. Not every melon makes it, for example.
Only the finest seeds of the melon are chosen for planting in the greenhouse. When the melon plants start flowering, farmers toss out any mediocre buds and manually pollinate the most impressive blooms with a paintbrush.
The nurturing of the fruit becomes so incredible when you consider that Japanese farmers even perform a massage on individual melons. This interesting step helps to achieve a perfect round shape and encourage ideal netting formation on the outer skin of the fruit. It is also done to produce an even sweeter flesh of the fruit. The massage is performed by farmers donning white gloves, by the way.
That’s not all. To protect the delicious melons from too much sun, farmers will cap the growing spherical plants with little black, cone-shaped hats to wear out in the elements.
Gift fruit boxes are popular, and other delicious items are expensive, too. For instance, a box of strawberries could run you 6,000 yen or $50.
One mandarin orange is about $1.60 at a high-end market, and a single tomato is around $4.
Imagine yummy watermelon that is grown in a nifty, square shape. Japanese farmers have produced the sweet-tasting favorite into 4.5-by-4.5-by-4.5-inch fruit. They are grown in transparent cubed containers, and the watermelon there isn’t cheap, either.
Be ready to shell out 15,000 yen apiece, or about $125, but look at it this way. Cubed watermelon is easier to stuff into your fridge than its bulky round, familiar shape.
When it comes to the art of fruit with superb flavor and aroma, it’s tough to beat Japan. This is an obsession with a longtime tradition and loyalty.
This ain’t any old cantaloupe or watermelon you find stacked on U.S. supermarket shelves.
Japan grows luxury fruit, and there is a delightful difference.