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A Melon or a Car? Tough choice

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Everything in Japan is notoriously expensive, making even well-breeched tourists blanch; what really takes the cake, though, are luxury fruits. In this naturally barren island nation, perfectly formed, blemish free fruits fetch outrageously high prices even with the country’s currently sluggish economy. A pair of special cantaloupe melons brought out only once a year in May is auctioned off; this year, the pair sold for 1.6 million yen (a little over US$16,000)! This is roughly equivalent to what one would pay for a regular car.

The rationale behind this seemingly insane overvaluation of something that will eventually rot away to nothing one way or another is its importance as a gift for valued family members, business associates, and employers. In Japan, presentation is everything, and bestowing the perfect fruit is a clear indication of the importance the giver places on the relationship with the recipient.

There are regular fruits suitable for ordinary consumption by regular people, of course. These include produce markets and groceries.

Other luxury fruits that may sport eye-popping price tags include Ruby Roman grapes, white peaches, square watermelons, cherries, strawberries, and musk melons. Each individual fruit is perfectly formed, uniformly patterned, without a bruise, and delicious. Prices may vary depending on the time of year, and buyers often know when and where to get the best fruits to give that all-important lasting impression.

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