The first two Yabari melons of the year (a special type of cantaloupe farmed in a special place) went for 5,200 in an auction, a steal compared to the 26,000 they went for last year.
Weighing about eight pounds, the premium cantaloupes were part of the season's initial harvest at Sapporo Central Wholesale Market. Every year buyers flock to the market for a shot at the prestige of winning the very first melons of the year.
The orange-fleshed melons are grown only in the city of Yubari, a small town on the northern island of Hokkaido. Valued for their perfect proportions and taste, they are typically given as gifts by Japanese during the summer.
The other melons at the first auction aren't quite as expensive, but even those tumbled in price this year. The average price Friday of 84 melons was about $400, down from $630 last year, according to the Sankei newspaper.
Department stores and high-end retailers sell the fruit to the public for $50 to $100, though prices can run much higher depending on quality.
$50-$100 for a melon? Really? And it's a cantaloupe which isn't even a good melon.