Ever seen a white strawberry? No? Well, now you have.
I picked up a 11 pack of these white strawberries at Daimaru, a department store, for about $36. Expensive, yes, but not the most expensive fruit in the store. They had one melon that was $108 and a strawberry that cost $20 each. For non-Japanese people this may seem ridiculously high. But these fruits are bought as gifts and are symbols of respect. Therefore, they are expected to be perfect in every way.
The attention to detail and care that go into these fruits is on another level. For instance, when the melons are grown, at a certain point in time, the grower will cut all the fruits on the vine except for one, ensuring that all the nutrients go to that one fruit. It’s given a sunshade (to prevent sunburn) and are even massaged to ensure their perfectly round shape. Other fruits, like apples, are hand pollenated and even given honey washes.
Japan’s obsession with these expensive fruits started with Senbikiya, an ultra lux store specializing solely on these fruits. It opened in 1934 as a “discount fruit store.” Somewhere along the way, they decided to invert their business model and then sell really expensive fruit.
The strawberries I bought weren’t from Senibkiya but they were still incredible. They had a pineapple-like scent that was so fragrant, I would occasionally get whiffs of it while carrying my bag through the subway. The flesh was completely white, both inside and out, and sweet. It was unlike any other strawberry I had before.
I might have to try a few more different fruit while I’m in Japan…