From the Mainichi Daily News:
SAPPORO — Two prized local melons fetched a record price of 2.5 million yen for the pair during the season’s first auction at a wholesale market on Tuesday.
“I had expected Yubari melons would fetch a high price, but I didn’t expect the figure to be this high,” said a startled broker at the Sapporo City Central Wholesale Markets in Sapporo’s Chuo-ku.
Soon after the bidding started at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, with a starting price of 2 million yen per set, Sapporo-based wholesaler Ibi bid 2.5 million yen a set.
After the successful bid, the melons immediately went on sale at a retail store run by Ibi near the wholesale market for 1.25 million yen each.
Takeo Fukawa, 24, manager of the store, said, “I wanted to support Yubari,” referring to the financially struggling Hokkaido city where the namesake premium melons are grown.
The hammer price for Yubari melons during the season’s first auction has been on the rise over recent years, fetching 600,000 yen for a pair in 2005, 800,000 yen in 2006 and 2 million yen in 2007 — the year after the city of Yubari became an organization designated for fiscal reconstruction following financial difficulties.