• Kyodo News

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A pair of Yubari melons, premium orange-fleshed cantaloupe from their namesake city in Hokkaido, fetched ¥1.5 million Monday in the season’s first auction at the Sapporo City Central Wholesale Markets.

The quote was three times the high of ¥500,000 for a similar pair in last year’s auction held amid the economic downturn, but it was lower than the record ¥2.5 million that was fetched in 2008.

“We wanted to repay the producer, who must have had to work hard amid the unseasonal weather,” said an official at Kurashige Shoten K.K., the wholesaler who successfully snared the melons.

A 65-year-old man from Sapporo who came to see the market with his wife said: “The winning bid was higher than I had expected. It’s just beyond my reach.”

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