Expensive Japanese Fruit Culture: Why Is Fruit a Luxury in Japan?

Expensive Japanese Fruit Culture: Why Is Fruit a Luxury in Japan?

What is a luxury fruit? You might think of chocolate-covered strawberries or decadent grapes being fed to someone on a chaise. But in Japan, the most expensive fruits on the market are perfectly shaped, explosively flavorful, and worth tens of thousands of dollars at auctions. 

For hundreds of years, Japanese people have used fruit as blessed offerings to high-ranking officials or essential pieces of traditional or religious ceremonies. In Japanese culture, this appreciation for fruit as a worthy gift to respected figures has continued to this day in the form of designer artisan fruits that can sell for mind-boggling amounts of money for a single portion. In many ways, each fruit is much more than an expensive souvenir: it’s an edible piece of art that connects you directly with the incredible craftsmen who have dedicated their lives to perfecting these creations.

Why is Fruit So Expensive in Japan?

You might be wondering if the average Japanese family is budgeting hundreds of dollars to keep their family scurvy-free every month. Rest assured, the average Japanese supermarket is home to plenty of average-grade fruits and vegetables. To find the high-priced luxurious options, you’ll have to visit a specialty store like Sembikiya or a souvenir counter in a department store. You can also order your own luxury Japanese fruits delivered directly to your door from Ikigai Fruits! 

The main reason these luxury fruits are so expensive is the tightly monitored quality control the farmers employ for each crop. Each fruit must meet a certain, incredibly high standard for sugar content, texture, shape, size, and more. The commitment to only offering the truly superb results of each harvest means the yield is incredibly low. In other words, fruit this perfect is incredibly rare, and each year only a minuscule number of goods actually make it to market. The price reflects the rarity and meticulous work it takes to produce these feats of farming ingenuity.

Why is Fruit Given as Gifts in Japan?

With so much effort and expense being spent on the creation of these immaculate fruits, it’s no wonder so many Japanese people buy them as gifts on special occasions for loved ones. But why fruit? What makes fruit so perfect as a gift in Japan?

One aspect of fruit that makes it such a special gift in Japan is its seasonality. From a cultural standpoint, Japan often celebrates the uniqueness of each of the four seasons in their own right, complete with dedicated festivals, events, foods, and traditions. Fruits are another way to celebrate the distinctive blessings of each season. By enjoying the taste, the smell, and even the sight of the fruits, the recipient can appreciate the season in a uniquely powerful way.

A slice of Crown Melon - the Crown Jewel of Luxury Fruits

Another aspect is something we can all agree on: fruit is delicious! However, the level of artistry and dedication that goes into growing Japanese luxury fruit is unparalleled. The low-yield harvests of these immaculate specimens mean only a select few people each year will be granted the chance to taste what a practically perfect fruit tastes like. Spending hundreds of dollars on that experience is like taking your loved one out to a Michelin-star restaurant where you have to book months in advance.

In other words, Japanese luxury fruit is an excellent choice for a present because it shows the recipient how much you care about them. Bringing them a unique, exclusive experience in the form of perfect seasonal fruit is a powerful way to show how much you care.

The Crown Jewel of Japanese luxury fruit: The Crown Melon

Of all the different kinds of Japanese luxury fruit, none is as well-known or truly revered as the fabled Crown Melon. Grown in Fukuroi City in Shizuoka Prefecture, Crown Melons are a kind of muskmelon that are carefully grown and harvested using a method unique to the area for over a century.

Unlike muskmelon farms in other parts of Japan, Fukuroi City’s Crown Melons are cultivated using a strategy known as “one tree, one fruit.” Every Crown Melon grown is the only fruit grown on the tree it comes from, meaning all the nutrients and resources can be devoted to its enhancement. They are grown in meticulously planned greenhouses in individual “isolation beds”. The saplings are bedded in gentle soil pulled from the rice fields. This environment allows farmers to completely control the water content of each plant, which can alter the resulting fruit.

Japanese luxury fruit in farm

Even the placement of the beds within the greenhouse is meticulously calculated to ensure every plant gets the same amount of sunlight, remains the correct temperature, and receives an exact amount of moisture. These ingenious techniques ensure Crown Melons can be harvested year-round.

This concentrated effort into each individual melon means the results are consistently impeccable. So, how much should you expect to pay for a Crown Melon? On average, expect to spend $120 to $150 per single melon. Considering the human-powered efforts that make these perfect specimens possible, the tantalizingly soft texture, the sweet flesh that melts in your mouth, and the alluring aroma that enhances your eating experience, it’s definitely worth the price. 

The Art of Japanese Luxury Fruits

Luxury fruit is not about spending a lot of money to eat a really nice piece of fruit. In Japan, each of these artisan delicacies truly is treated as an individual piece of art by the farmers who lovingly attend to them during cultivation. Most of this work must be done by hand to be done properly, meaning automation has very little part in bringing these incredible feats of human farming talent to fruition.

Japanese luxury fruit farmer working

In every bite, you can taste the hard work and pure love these craftsmen must have for their creations. Eating luxury fruit is about celebrating the power of human hands and ingenuity when tasked with using nature to create a piece of edible art.

In Japan, the limited number of fruits from each harvest combined with reverence for the farmers who toil tirelessly to bring each miracle to market drives the prices up, but are still widely regarded as worth every cent.

Experience the wonder of Japanese fruits for yourself. Learn more about the Crown Melon.

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