I love a juicy piece of fresh fruit as much as the next person, but Japan takes fruit to the next level. One of the most interesting concepts we observed during our visit there was the luxury fruit market, which elevates produce to works of art.
During our food tour in Tokyo, our guide took us into Sembikiya for our first introduction to high-end fruit grocers, and we returned later for a closer look around. Founded in 1834 by samurai Benzo Ohshima, Sembikiya has been transformed by Ohshima’s descendants into the largest and oldest purveyor of the country’s finest produce. The most expensive too — a bunch of grapes will set you back $65 USD and their signature muskmelons have fetched nearly $28,000 USD each at auction. The presentation is pristine, although certainly not environmentally friendly with all the individually plastic wrapped items.
Interestingly, over 80% of customers at Sembikiya and other luxury markets shop for the fruit as gifts, especially during the customary Japanese gift-giving seasons in July and December. It is not unusual for a respected boss, teacher, or family member to receive a prime selection of fruits as an expression of gratitude.
So does it taste as good as it looks? We could only afford to part with $12 USD for a couple mandarin oranges. Finest orange I’ve ever had, or at least the most expensive!