In Japan, it’s what’s on the outside that counts when it comes to fruits like melons and strawberries.
Specially cultivated watermelons grow into perfect cubes, pyramids and hearts, and can run up to $100 apiece in Japan, according to CNN. Last year in Hokkaido, a pair of cantaloupes sold for USD $27,240. To put that in perspective, a year of public college for out-of-state students averages out to about $24,930, according to College Board.
Scoop-shaped strawberries the size of tennis balls are most prized, and sell for $4,395 each. Fruit farmer Okuda Nichio grows this extra-special variety, and told CNN he’s spent 15 years perfecting the varietal. Each berry takes 45 days to grow, so only 500 can be produced each year. A bunch of golf ball-sized Ruby Roman grapes, named for their color, can go for upwards of $880.
According to CNN, specialty fruit is such a fixture in Japanese culture because of the social and religious culture of gifting.