The quirky Japan news of the day
All over the world’s new today is the story of a bunch of grapes selling for a staggering US$910, or about US$26 per grape.
According to reports, the 700 gram Ruby Roman grapes were bought by a hotel manager, looking to serve his guests at an upscale hotel.
Of course, this story is true. But as usual, the foreign press blow it up into something that becomes a “Japan is so wacky!” type story. Newspapers like The Sun jump on these types of stories, happily (and perhaps innocently) exclaiming “Sour grapes at $1K a bunch…Fruit lovers were left WINE-ing about the price.” It then goes on to explain “Fruit is expensive in Japan…”
Well yes, but not that expensive—it’s certainly not normal to pay that much for a bunch of grapes.
But the foreign media love telling stories involving the ridiculous amounts of money that the Japanese pay for fruit. Mangoes made the headlines earlier this year when a pair of the coveted “Taiyo no Tamago” brand were sold for a record ¥200,000 at auction. Only the Associated Press does readers the favor of writing a balanced article, with the headline declaring, “New premium grapes auctioned for $910 in Japan.”
Or another often repeated story is the "whopping" ￥20.2 million paid for a tuna fish in Japan - the same story that is reiterated time and time again but also fail to put into context the fact that it was a cermonial bid, nothing to do with the street price as it if usually made out to be.
But realistically, is shelling out prime prices for premium products really such an odd practice? Consider delicacies such as caviar or foie gras—which are essentially just fish eggs and duck liver—or the fermented grapes we call wine, and the exorbitant prices some of these items often sell for.
Yet as long as this fact can be conveniently ignored, the “Only in Japan!” stories will continue on as hot topics in the foreign media.
Written by Sarah Noorbakhsh and Anna Kitanaka
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