Someone once threw me a small, brown, hairy kiwi fruit, and I threw a wastebasket over it until it was dead. [Erma Bombeck]
Something out of this world is usually priceless. Its value surpasses the baseness of money. Love and care are things which come from the heart. Nurturing nature is a full-time job and requires much self-sacrifice. Reaching perfection is the ultimate goal that will bring a great sense of personal self-satisfaction.
The marvellous melons, seductive strawberries and giant grapes would, if they could speak, tell you about how sheltered and wonderful their life was before they were cut from the stem. Treated like god sent small children, every step of their incarnation has been masterminded by their parents … or farmers.
For one hundred and twenty days the infamous watermelons go through the seasons under intense protection – sunhats in the summer and kept off the ground (from frost) in the winter. The nursery is constantly monitored, powered by oil heaters which greatly hike up its cost of living. The watermelon vine in Shizuoka is diverted to one fruit only; all the care in the world to provide it with all the nutrients it needs.
When it has reached maturity, it is transported with a ‘T’ to its next home – specialist fruit shops in upmarket department stores. Like a princess, it is displayed in beautiful packaging in a shop with high ceilings, expensive fittings and lighting fit for the sale of diamonds. Marie-Antoinette could quite easily say to the fruitless peasants, ‘let them eat watermelons’. Its next set of parents are the shop assistants who have a reputation as having the best customer service in the world.
Not just anyone will receive the princess watermelon. The exclusive gift for friends, family or a boss will be appreciated and honoured with the pleasure of eating the Utopian fruit. Fruit in Japan is seen by some as a luxury item, with the belief that we can survive without fruit but not vegetables. If we can reach heaven with the sweetest tasting fruit then surely the exhorbitant price is worth it?
How do they keep the prices so high? Like the watermelons they grow, farmers are protected by the government by putting a high tariff on import fruit. In the UK we are able to get all sorts of tropical fruit at cut price and year round so we are not restricted to affordable bananas and pineapples. However, when we buy organic fruit we can’t always guarantee if the inside will be good or rotten. But in Japan, it can most definitely be guaranteed. Imagine the horror of the recipient cutting up the watermelon to see worms inside! How auspicious that would be.
Fruit is plentiful and cheap in South East Asia but still a food which commands respect. Have you noticed on Buddhist shrines that it is fruit and not vegetables that are offered to the Buddha?
If you’re in a gift-giving mood in summer or winter and feel like a splurge, nip down to Takano at the bottom of Tobu department store, Isetan in Shinjuku or Senbikiya in Nihonmashi. For a little extra, why not buy a watermelon cooler buggy but don’t let Peaches Geldof push it!