A - Square watermelons
B - Queen strawberries
C - Yuba Right King melons
D - Ruby Roman grapes
Answer: C - Yuba Right King melons
A pair of Yubari King melons sold for the equivalent of $26,000 in Japan in 2017. These melons can only grow in the Hokkaido Prefecture of Japan and are usually only handled by farmers and sellers that wear white gloves to prevent blemishes from appearing on the skin.
From the Yubari King to the Andes, the Higo green melon, and many more, melons are grown up and down Japan, and they're serious business. The fruit isn't traditionally something you'd pick up as a snack in Japan, but is a luxury that often plays a big part in Japan's gift-giving culture.
And they're not just admired for their taste, but for their looks as well. Crown melons are one of the most renowned varieties. Go into a high-end fruit store in Tokyo, and you're likely to see their signature stickers.
The melons are only grown in Shizuoka prefecture, in central Japan, and can cost you over $200 each. Unlike the $5 mass-produced melons you're likely to come across in a Western supermarket, crown melons take constant care and attention to grow. Fumiyoshi Chujyo's family has been growing these melons for 60 years at his farm near Fukuroi.
The farmers give the melons constant attention and care. Each melon takes 100 days to grow, and the fruit is grown all year round. There are 20 slightly different varieties of crown melon seeds grown depending on the season. The raised beds allow the farmers to control the amount of water each plant gets exactly, and air conditioning and heating keep the temperatures constant year-round.
This work is all done entirely by hand, and it isn't just about getting the taste right, but perfecting the appearance too. As the fruits get larger on each plant, they are carefully wrapped in white paper to protect them. Once this net pattern has developed, each melon is even massaged and polished by hand. It is then covered to protect it from the sun for its final growing period.
The farmers can wear through multiple pairs of white gloves polishing these melons. But the work of the agricultural cooperatives also keeps their prices high. The Shizuoka Crown Melon company oversee the distribution and checks on melons from over 200 farmers.
They ensure that the quality remains high and that the prices aren't undercut. The resulting taste is undeniably incredible. Each fruit has a complex balance of flavors and is perfectly juicy and sweet. But you'll have to decide for yourself whether the high price is worth it for the taste.
Despite the cost, there's a big market for these fruits across Japan. Consumers are willing to pay to ensure that their gift is perfect, especially knowing the work that has gone into producing them.
The melons are often sold in individual presentation boxes, sitting on silk or hay, or tied with a ribbon. And when choosing the perfect gift, the high price is often seen as a signifier of quality.
At the start of the season, the perfect first fruits are auctioned off and are often sought after as a trophy for local businesses to bid on. A new record is set for the sale of these fruits almost every year, and it doesn't look like their price is going down anytime soon.