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The Legend of the $6,100 Japanese Densuke Watermelon

In 2008, a 17-pound watermelon sold at auction in northern Japan for a staggering $6,100, setting a record for the most expensive watermelon ever sold. This was no ordinary watermelon – it was a premium “Densuke” watermelon, specially grown on the island of Hokkaido.

Tomoko A. Hosaka / AP

Densuke watermelons are prized for their deep black rind, crunchy red flesh, and exceptionally sweet taste. They contain higher sugar content compared to regular watermelons. The Densuke variety was introduced in the 1980s when Hokkaido farmers began cultivating new crops. Only a limited number are grown each season due to the intensive labor required. This scarcity drives up demand at auction.

In Japanese culture, perfect produce is revered. Giving fruit as a luxury gift is an important tradition. The astronomical prices paid for Densuke watermelons reflect respect for the farmers’ hard work and national pride in Japanese agriculture.

The marine products dealer who bought the record-breaking melon in 2008 stated he wanted to support local agriculture. Unseasonably warm weather that year boosted sugar levels, adding value. Though prices fluctuate annually, Densuke watermelons still sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The legendary Densuke remains one of the world’s most coveted fruits. For those seeking a taste, seeds can be purchased online. But the true experience comes only from sampling a freshly harvested melon in Hokkaido. Getting your hands on one requires being in the right place at the right harvest time – or having a spare $6,100.

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