$11,000 for bunch of grapes in Japan

Chef Masayuki Hirai with the record-setting grapes (top). Earlier this year, a pair of Yubari melons (above left) went for 1.5 million yen (S$16,760), and two "Taiyo no Tamago" mangoes - 300,000 yen.
Earlier this year, a pair of Yubari melons (above) went for 1.5 million yen (S$16,760), and two "Taiyo no Tamago" mangoes - 300,000 yen.PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Chef Masayuki Hirai with the record-setting grapes (top). Earlier this year, a pair of Yubari melons (above left) went for 1.5 million yen (S$16,760), and two "Taiyo no Tamago" mangoes - 300,000 yen.
Earlier this year, a pair of Yubari melons went for 1.5 million yen (S$16,760), and two "Taiyo no Tamago" mangoes - 300,000 yen.PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • A bunch of Japanese grapes has sold for a record one million yen (S$11,170), or about 38,000 yen per grape - no trifling matter even in a country where fruit can cost a small fortune.

This bunch of 26 Ruby Roman grapes was the highest-priced at this year's first auction in Kanazawa, 300km north-west of Tokyo. The previous record, set last year, was 550,000 yen.

Each berry weighs at least 20g and is the size of a ping-pong ball, said the local board of agriculture.

Winning bidder Masayuki Hirai, the head chef of the Nikko hotel in Kanazawa, told media that he was under strict orders to secure the grapes, as local tourism chiefs are eager to capitalise on a new train line to the area.

"With the opening of the Hokuriku bullet train line, I was told to win at any cost," he said.


Chef Masayuki Hirai with the record-setting grapes. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

For connoisseurs of eye-wateringly priced fruit, Japan is the place to be.

People often buy top-notch fruit such as melons for gifts, and virgin batches can fetch extraordinary prices, making national headlines and creating a lucrative market for fruit boutiques despite Japan's sluggish economy.

Earlier this year, a pair of Yubari melons from Hokkaido - considered a status symbol - was snapped up for a jaw-dropping 1.5 million yen.

Meanwhile, a Japanese department store thought nothing of shelling out 300,000 yen for a pair of pristine mangoes grown in southern Japan.

Square and even heart-shaped watermelons are all the rage and, while 38,000 yen per grape is extreme, many Japanese will happily pay through the nose for fruit - even the regular round variety.

Single white peaches the size of a newborn baby's head can command more than 2,000 yen, while a bunch of Muscat of Alexandria grapes could put a hefty hole in your wallet, going for a cool 7,000 yen.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline '$11,000 for bunch of grapes in Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe