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After a Two Year Loan to the United States, Michelangelo’s David is being returned to Italy
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Inside Japan’s Most Insanely Expensive Fruit Parlor

Tokyo’s Sembikiya looks like a jewelry shop. Harry & David need to step up their game. posted on June 12, 2013 at 6:23pm EDT

This is a luxury fruit parlor in Tokyo.

This is a                                                           luxury fruit                                                           parlor in                                                           Tokyo.
It is the flagship store of the Sembikiya fruit emporium. Run by the same Samurai-descendant family since 1834, Sembikiya began as a discount fruit store. But the wife of the second-generation owner decided they could make more money the other way around.

But it is not actually a grocery store.

But it is                                                           not actually a                                                           grocery                                                           store.
It is a gift shop. Sembikiya management estimates that 80-90 percent of their products are bought as gifts as it’s customary in Japan to give high-end fruits as presents for formal occasions like weddings, business transactions, and hospital visits.

What you can buy here: $21 “Sekai-ichi” apples.

What you                                                           can buy here:                                                           $21
You read that right, $21 per apple. “Sekai-ichi” means “world’s best.” These apple were presumably watered with honey, angel piss, and the tears of Donald Trump. (Just kidding, but more on that below.)

$212 for a square watermelon

$212 for                                                           a square                                                           watermelon
Source: galatea00

$69 for a twelve-pack of Queen Strawberries

$69 for a                                                           twelve-pack of                                                           Queen                                                           Strawberries
This would be an expensive 12-piece sushi meal even at a world-class restaurant.

Cherries for $159.50 per box ($4 per cherry)

Cherries                                                           for $159.50                                                           per box ($4                                                           per cherry)

$64 box of grapes.

$64 box                                                           of grapes.
Source: anakorpa

Or maybe you’d prefer a medly of 6 fruits for $170.

Or maybe                                                           you'd prefer a                                                           medly of 6                                                           fruits for                                                           $170.
Source: brad_lp80

Or $127 for a Densuke watermelon.

Or $127                                                           for a Densuke                                                           watermelon.
As recently as 2011, Hokkaido farmers mourned the steep price drop for these stripeless watermelons, with the top crop of the season “only” auctioning for $4,000. Only 100 of these watermelons are grown each year in Hokkaido.
Source: anakorpa

Yubari cantaloups ($160 for one, or $265 for two)

Yubari                                                           cantaloups                                                           ($160 for one,                                                           or $265 for                                                           two)
They are the most expensive fruits on earth. A melon once auctioned for $23,500.
Source: brad_lp80
What’s so special about these cantaloups? For one, they’re grown in perfectly weathered greenhouses and given hats to prevent sun burn. Each plant only grows one fruit, to receive the whole plant’s sweetness — farmers prune the less perfect fruits early on.

So how did fruit become a luxury gift item?

So how                                                           did fruit                                                           become a                                                           luxury gift                                                           item?
According to research by Takasago, an international flavor and fragrance company based in Japan, fruit as a luxury item stems from the fact that vegetables were always plentiful in Japanese agriculture, meaning fruit was not essential for nutrition.
In Europe, where Western culture originated, much of the water is hard water, which is difficult to drink, and few crops could provide a source of vitamins throughout the year, so fruits, which were rich in water content and vitamins, were considered essential food in people’s lives. Fruits were also the main type of preserved foods, being used for jams, juices, wines, and more. In contrast, Japan has a lot of rain, good quality water, and the availability of an abundance of vegetables and edible wild plants year round, from which water content and vitamins can easily be obtained. For this reason fruits were always considered luxury items and gift items.
Source: takasago.com
The Sembikiya family claims responsibility for helping start the tradition of fruit gift giving decades ago. And that’s partially true: Because there’s a market for fruit as a high-end gift, farmers go to extreme measures to highten the fruits flavor and to ensure a blemishless presentation: Orchards are hand-pollinated with tiny wands, fruits are given individual protective boxes to grow in, and apples are branded by stencil. And that is why there are fruit museums under every department store in Tokyo, where perfect melons probably sit behind velvet ropes and bulletproof glass.

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