The melons, Yubari melons, were purchased by a local packaging firm which placed the winning bid during the auction at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market in northern Hokkaido.
Seasonal fruit offerings in Japan routinely attract massive sums from buyers seeking social prestige, or from shop owners wanting to attract customers to “ooh and aah” over the extravagant edibles, according to a report by AFP.
“Yubari melons are growing well this year as sunshine hours have been long since early May,” market official Tatsuro Shibuta told AFP.
Yubari melons are considered a status symbol in Japan — like a fine wine — with many being bought as a gift for friends and colleagues.
The best-quality Yubari melons are perfect spheres with a smooth, evenly patterned rind. A T-shaped stalk is left on the fruit, which is usually sold in an ornate box.
Even ordinary fruit is comparatively expensive in Japan and it is not unusual for a single apple to cost as much as $3.