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ASIAN CANADIAN

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Black Japanese watermelon sold at record price

TOKYO - A jumbo black watermelon auctioned in Japan today fetched a record $6,100, making it one of the most expensive watermelons ever sold in the country.

In a society where melons are a luxury item commonly given as gifts, the watermelon's hefty price tag followed another jaw-dropping auction last month, when a pair of "Yubari" cantaloupe melons sold for a record $23,500.

The 7.7-kilogram, black-skinned "Densuke" watermelon, a variety grown only on the northern island of Hokkaido, was purchased today by a marine products dealer.

He said he wanted to support local agriculture.

The price was the highest on record for a Densuke watermelon, said Kazuyoshi Ohira, a spokesman for the Tohma Agricultural Co-operative in Hokkaido.

Most retail at department stores and supermarkets for a more modest $188 to $283, Ohira said.

And what makes a watermelon worth $200, much less $6,000?

Ohira says it's the unusual black skin and unparalleled taste. "It's a watermelon, but it's not the same," he said.

© The Canadian Press, 2008

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