There’s was a report that wealthy people in Russia paid 500 times the price of a regular watermelon in Russia to taste Japanese square watermelons. That is passé even absurd (yet true) but nowadays never underestimate the quality, taste and look of a Japanese anything.
In Japan everyday supermarket fruits are expensive, with single apples selling at times for as high as $10 a piece, in a nation’s where their reverence for perfectly formed seasonal fruits is a matter of perspective.
Fruits such as grapes, mangoes and melons are super expensive and sell for astronomical prices. However most of the high-end fruits are given as a token of appreciation, and are not common in daily households.
But why are aesthetics so important to Japanese? If you understand why, you begin to understand how fruits symbolize an aesthetic ideal.
The Japanese aesthetic ideal is connected to the “iki” because it enjoyed wide popularity among the world’s largest premodern urban population in the late eighteenth century. Although its connotation may have changed somewhat, iki survived the modernization of Japan, and it is still of wide concern in everyday life.
Japanese have plenty of words to describe positive simplicity and the word “kirei”, which describes something beautiful is based on “cleanliness without dust or dirt” also signifies attention to detail. You could say the watermelon is beautiful, Kirei and it becomes obvious that a certain care and concern has been taken.
While a watermelon doesn’t really define iki, but it encompasses the importance of the Japanese aesthetic and the importance of Kirei perfection.