TOKYO • A Tokyo restaurant is honouring the crowning of a new Japanese emperor next month with a football-sized wagyu beef hamburger served between gold-dusted buns - at an eye-watering cost of 100,000 yen (S$1,220).
The juicy 3kg whopper, painstakingly prepared by chefs at the swanky Oak Door steakhouse in Tokyo's Roppongi district, went on sale yesterday.
It measures 25cm in diameter and is topped with foie gras, slices of Japanese beef and freshly shaved black truffles.
Head chef Patrick Shimada said at a private unveiling: "We wanted to do something to celebrate the new emperor and a new era for Japan."
"It also gets me more in touch with my Japanese roots," added Mr Shimada, a fourth-generation Japanese American who concocted the jumbo dish.
"Doing this through an American-style burger using Japanese ingredients - it's kind of like myself in a bun," he said.
The Golden Giant Burger, which commemorates the coronation of Crown Prince Naruhito on May 1 and marks the ushering in of Japan's new Reiwa era, will stay on the menu until the end of June.
The super-sized burger is sprinkled with gold flakes, and comes with a bottle of wine to help "soften" the blow to wallets.
3kg Weight of the mega burger
25cm Diameter of the burger
$1,220 Cost of the burger
Japan's Emperor Akihito will abdicate at the end of this month, becoming the first living monarch in Japan to step down in 200 years, relinquishing the Chrysanthemum Throne to his son.
Japan revealed the name of its new imperial epoch yesterday after 31 years of the Heisei era.
Chefs who were busy grilling beef for their giant burgers would have landed in hot water in medieval times.
A 1,200-year ban on the consumption of meat in Japan - first decreed in the seventh century on a seasonal basis - saw people severely punished for defying the law. The ban was ended by Emperor Meiji in 1872.
"There are so many burger places in Japan these days," said Mr Shimada. "Walk down the street and you can get a burger almost anywhere.
"Things catch on - and when they catch on in Japan, they kind of 'blow up'," he said.
Other products and promotions tied to the 31-year reign of Emperor Akihito are also proving to be a hit with consumers.
Heso Production, a planning company based in Osaka, is selling more than 10 different products labelled with the Heisei characters, including socks, "manju" - traditional Japanese sweets that are round and filled with red bean paste - and key chains.
One of the company's top-selling products is a deck of Heisei playing cards emblazoned with various popular terms from the Heisei era, such as "Make Drama" from 1996. The idea is for people to reminisce while playing cards.
An unexpected market to emerge has been "rush planning" to hold wedding ceremonies before the era name changes.
Hotel New Otani Osaka is offering special packages for weddings held before the era name changes.
Couples are offered a night in a suite room or other perks.
A public relations official from the hotel said "not everyone wants to hold a ceremony with the new era name. I think there are couples who think, 'We were born in the Heisei era'', and want to create a positive memory before the era ends.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK