To an American, the prices of fresh fruits and vegetables in Tokyo are outrageously expensive. The first time you see a $100 watermelon, you think it’s either a joke or, well, a really bad joke. A watermelon, even a square one, should fall within the realm of reasonably priced — and $100 is rarely considered a reasonable price.
Now it might not be a comfort to the people of Tokyo, but high-priced produce may become Japan’s secret weapon export. Producers of “the Rolls-Royce of apples” have discovered the Chinese market and beyond — selling fruit for prices that make overpriced watermelons seem like bargains. And why not? In China,
. . .Japanese apples are being scooped up by the Lamborghini-driving, Gucci-toting nouveau riche in Beijing and Dalian at $17 apiece, or roughly 100 times the price of a Chinese apple. Some of the finest specimens, with dragon designs and Chinese characters in their peels, retail for more than $100 each.
Yes, you read that right: $100. For an apple. An apple in a country that holds the honor of being the world’s largest apple producer. But China isn’t the only growth market for Japanese fruit:
The crates of “Japan’s Best” apples being shipped overseas are only part of a niche-market export boom from high-end Japanese farms. It includes $240 musk melons flying off to Thailand, $3 strawberries going to Hong Kong and $170 square-shaped watermelons for Kuwait.
Never fear, Tokyo shoppers: all the good stuff isn’t heading overseas. If you shop carefully, you can find your own $100 fruit in high shops in the Nihonbashi district. For the highest prices, we suggest out-of-season delicacies:
Cherries in winter, from Yamagata prefecture in northern Japan, can fetch a Â¥50,000 price tag for just 300 grams, or 10 ounces.