The first-ever auction of the black-skinned watermelons known as “Densuke”, a delicacy of Hokkaido’s Tohma village, took place in markets in Asahikawa and Sapporo on June 10th.
The 15 melons auctioned in Asahikawa weighed, on average, 8kg with a diameter of about 30cm. A-Coop Asahikawa, a regional supermarket, paid the highest price, or 280,000 yen for one. This price was the same “charity price” as last year (tr: i.e. the Coop overpaid to support the farmers).
The melons this year are smaller than usual due to poor sunlight but are reported to be sufficiently sweet. During the peak time at the beginning of July, the melons will sell for a few thousand yen apiece mostly in retail stores in Hokkaido and the Tokyo area.
Tohma began raising the Densuke 「田助」 melons 22 years ago, and the unique name comes from a comic actor’s stage name. It also has the meaning of a rice field whose crops were rotated due to yield reductions (tr: or a slang term for a portable tape recorder).