Imagine going into a high-end luxury store filled with sparkling display cases, security at every turn and an attentive staff and finding not expensive jewelry but...fruit encased in the glass.
In Sembikiya, Japan's oldest fruit shop, fruit is treated and sold like an elaborate gift. And this is no ordinary fruit. Sembikiya sells anything from heart-shaped watermelons to ping-pong ball sized "Ruby Roman" grapes to giant strawberries that are a bit more expensive than your average box of sad market fruit.
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According to CNN, cultivating these luxury fruits involves meticulous and labor-intensive practices. Although the way Japanese farmers grow these beauties is a secret, it was revealed that sometimes it takes 45 days to grow one strawberry and usually sell for 500,000 yen ($4,395) each. The strawberries even have a special name - Bijin-hime, which means "beautiful princess".
ONE STRAWBERRY is $4,395. And if you think that's just a bit beyond your fruit budget, in 2016 a premium Hokkaido cantaloupe sold for a record $27,240 (3 million yen) at an auction.
Expensive fruit isn't unique to Sembikiya, though. According to the Semikiya website, fruit is given as gifts to people who are important to you on special occasions. Soyeon Shim, dean of the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told CNN,
Besides being a symbol of respect, the Japanese see fruit in spiritual terms, regularly offering it to the gods at home alters.
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A piece of fruit this magnificent isn't sold in some regular cardboard box. The fruit is wrapped in packaging that, of course, matches is luxury. CNN reports that single strawberries are sold in packages that resemble jewelry boxes, while melons are sold in ornate wooden boxes.
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To consumers, according to CNN, the expense represents quality and some say that they even taste better than normal-priced fruit.
Seeing as though one strawberry is more than four month's rent, we'll stick to our small, slightly mushy, questionable fruit. We'll admire these from afar.