Considered to be the most expensive fruit in the whole world, Yubari Kings are a type of melon grown and sold in Japan.
Grown exclusively in Yubari on Hokkaido, Yubari King melons are famous for their sweetness. They are basically a hybrid of two other cantaloupe cultivars: Earl’s Favourite and Burpee’s “Spicy” Cantaloupe.
Yubari King melons demand a farmer’s constant care and are usually grown only in greenhouses. The soil that the melons grow in is called volcanic ash soil. The reason being this soil’s easily controllable temperature and the fact that ash allows the water to drain fast. Thus, letting the top to remain dry. This in turn encourages the size of melons.
Yubari King Melons are protected by geographical indication which includes Wagyu beef or Iberian ham.
The highest quality Yubari King Melons are perfectly round in shape and have a flawlessly smooth outer skin. Depending on their appearance and level of sweetness, the melons are categorized into 4 grades. According to their grades, melons are either selected or rejected straightaway.
If found to be too sweet or not sweet enough, they are simply excluded. The best melons have an exceptionally orange flesh on the inside. In order to make them look even more aesthetically pleasing, a part of the stem is snipped using scissors and is placed on top of the melons.
History & Cultural Significance
It was before the Second World War that people of Yubari began to grow cantaloupes. During the war, the cultivation of melons stopped altogether and later when the war was over, the farmers of Yubari started growing other crops like asparagus and potatoes.
But to their dismay, their results could never match the results yielded by the cultivation of cantaloupes. So, they decided to crossbreed their original cantaloupe with one from Europe. This resulted in the one that they cultivate today, called “Yubari King.”
The planting is done in February and usually after 105 days the first batch is ready to be harvested. Early September witnesses the end of their growing season.
The harvesting of Yubari King melons is done with bare hands using scissors and it is advised to consume them within 2 to 3 days of their harvesting. Although Yubari King melons are grown all year round but it still isn’t easy to find these melons in the local shops and supermarkets.
Yubari Kings are often used for summer gift giving and they are usually sold in a wood box which work as an aesthetic gift packaging.
In regards to the infamous price of Yubari King Melons, they tend to be considered as affordable only to the uppermost tier of Japanese society.
A pair of Yubari King Melons were sold for ¥2.5 million in 2008 at an auction held in Japan. Konishi Seika, which is a fruit and vegetable market in Amagasaki, bought two Yubari King Melons together for ¥3 million at an auction in 2016.
2019 witnessed the highest recorded price for a pair of Yubari King Melons which was whopping ¥5 million and these were bought by Pokka Sapporo Food & Beverage Ltd, a Tokyo-based organization.