SAPPORO – A pair of Yubari melons, a premium variety of cantaloupe from Hokkaido, sold for a record ¥2.5 million in the season’s first auction Tuesday at the Sapporo City Central Wholesale Markets.
The winning bid for what was judged the best pair was cast by a man who runs a seafood lunchbox and souvenir business near the marketplace.
“We wanted to provide an upbeat topic of conversation for Yubari, which has been hit by a spate of bleak news,” an official of the company said. Yubari, a former coal-mining town with a population of around 12,500, went bankrupt last year and is undergoing rehabilitation measures.
The price surpassed the ¥2 million a pair fetched last year, according to Yubari’s agricultural cooperative.
The melons drew plenty of looks when they were put up for sale at ¥1.25 million a piece at one of its retail outlets. “While it is not something in the reach of an ordinary citizen, it is a feast for our eyes,” said Hisako Sato, a 70-year-old woman who was shopping nearby.
The melons were among the 100 put up for tender by farmers who started harvesting the fruit Monday in Yubari, the city whose fame evolved around the high-quality melon.
Blessed with good weather, this year’s harvest should be marked by high sugar content and good quality, according to the Yubari agricultural cooperative. Shipments are scheduled to peak between mid-June and mid-July.