Only in Japan: Crazy-Expensive "Gift Fruit"

yubari1 There are two types of fruit in Japan. You’re probably familiar with the first, ‘Fruit You Eat.” It’s cheap, nutritious and delicious, chock full of fiber and vitamins. I can get a bunch of Del Monte bananas for about $1.25 a block from my house, and a bag of tasty mikan oranges is $5-6.

The second type is “gift fruit,” fruit so premium it’s only worth giving as a present. Creating this ultra-premium fruit has three ultra-premium steps:

1) Grow some fruit

2) Throw away the uglies

3) Put it in a really nice box, and scribble some calligraphy on it.

The system works because it’s in no one’s interest to point out that gift fruit isn’t that much tastier than regular fruit. The gift fruit company likes its profits, the gift-giver likes not needing to pick out a present, and the gift receiver doesn’t want to be seen as a country bumpkin who can’t understand the magic in a $1,000 box of cherries. There are no flaws!

 Pictures of $20-$600 melons at Neil Duckett’s A Gaijin in Tokyo

The International Herald Tribune on Japan’s odd practice of fruit gifting

Record-busting million yen melons at the Japan Times Online

Gift fruit is just another entry in the book of “the Japanese populace are sheep to branding.” Where Americans, especially college students, are rejecting logos and ‘luxury’ brands in favor of sustainably produced goods and good quality for the price you pay, the Japanese love their Louis Vuitton wallets, their $3 cups of coffee (when you can get the same stuff for $1 at the vending machine outside), their$150 New Balance, and their $200 melons. I’m less embarrassed at how silly this practice than trying to think of some other random good to ‘luxurize’ for the Japanese market.

(photo from Sake-Drenched Postcards)