• Kyodo

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A black-rind watermelon grown in Hokkaido fetched a winning bid of ¥350,000 on Tuesday in the year’s first auction of the fruit at produce markets in Asahikawa and Sapporo.

The highest bid for one of roughly 240 Densuke watermelons, a signature product of the town of Toma, was ¥50,000 above last year’s top price.

The successful bidder at the Asahikawa market was Satoshi Ogino, a 47-year-old fruit and vegetable broker, who said his purchase was aimed at “providing encouragement to the efforts of the farmers.”

A farmers’ cooperative in Toma said it plans to ship a total of 70,000 Densuke watermelons this year. They are expected to retail for around ¥5,000 apiece.

The all-time highest winning bid for the fruit was ¥650,000, in 2008.

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