One bunch of about 30 grapes sold for $4K at a Japanese auction


Only $4000? Here’s a bunch that went for $5500…

But apparently each individual grape is inspected for quality, so, worth it?

I can’t afford them.

I bet they were sour, anyway.


These kinds of stories fit in to Western Culture’s xenophilia (is there a better word?) for “strange” Japanese culture. But that same money wouldn’t even buy a tasting glass of a 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, something that I don’t doubt happens regularly in some restaurants in New York. And it certainly wouldn’t get a headline.


Is it just me, or do BoingBoing titles keep getting more and more click-baity?

In this case, the exact same article a coupel of years ago would have been titled something like “One bunch of about 30 grapes sold for $4K at a Japanese auction” – indeed, the title we have here in BBS.

Somehow, the addition of “This” in the actual article’s title, “This one bunch of about 30 grapes sold…” makes it sound exactly like a click-baity title on UpWorthy or somewhere.

Is it just that this kind of language now permeates blogs, and the writers don’t even notice it?

Or, more likely given the discrepancy between the post title and the BBS title, is this deliberate editorship, seeing if making click-bait titles will, well, generate more clicks?

Either way, moving towards click-baiting is just a race to the bottom.


It’s not so much that they are tasty, but because they are rare. It’s simply conspicuous consumption.

And isn’t it a freaking bargain to have world news coverage at merely $4k?


And you won’t believe what happens next!


Yeah, but bottles of wine from 1945 are rare and one can see the perceived value to a collector.

Grapes that have just been grown are harder understand why they would command such a price. But then again with A LOT of the luxury market, it is marketing. Sure things like Coach bags are well made, but you’re paying mainly for the name and the opulence.

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Earn money selling this one weird product.


I think it takes a lot more than one this to earn the title of click-bait. Lucky for us, Boing Boing never disappoints!

Well, rarity is a major factor of virtually every expensive thing. Are diamonds super beautiful in comparison to the alternatives like other gemstones or cubic zirconia, or are they only rare?

And the appearance is the major factor in why these grapes are so much. Wedding fruit is a specific Japanese specialty (this is where you get melons that cost hundreds, when your average melon for eating is probably the same price as in the US), and only the most visually perfect specimens are sold for weddings.

You can see the perceived value because Western society has taught you to (despite evidence showing people can’t differentiate expensive from cheap wine that well).

Well with wine there are two factors - collecting and drinking. Collecting it doesn’t matter what the wine tastes like - you aren’t drinking it, you are collecting it. Like a book never actually read, or a toy not played with.

But yeah, when it gets down to the nuts and bolts of it, taste is entirely subjective, and while price usually assures a level of quality, it doesn’t make it “the best” or even “great” compared to other less expensive items. Some times it is just “different”, not “better”. I’ve encountered that with things like Scotch and Cigars. Scotch snobs won’t drink blended Scotches, when there are some good ones out there. And the Cubans are coveted, even though I don’t think they are really worth their premium price in all cases.

So yeah, personally, I have a hard time spending a lot of money on something I consume. Have I splurged on a $40 Filet Mignon and was it the best one I have ever had? Yes. Was it worth the premium price? Debatable. Would I pay something absurd as $100 for one? Not with this current job.

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But diamonds aren’t rare.


Just like true love.

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Grapes used to be considered an important dessert treat for well-bred westerners as well. Just look back to Victorian England for that.

(grape scissors )


That reminds me of this post about celery

There is a cultural aspect to these stories about super-high auction prices for fresh commodities like tuna, melons or grapes. It’s partly to do with the spectacle but I’m also pretty sure it is associated with the fact that there is still plenty of money in Japan and when folk don’t have much time it can be a struggle to find ways to exhibit their wealth. I don’t think that it’s consciously thought out, it just has become a part of the culture. The fact that these items are perishable and clearly not collectible is probably also significant. These grapes must be eaten immediately. What’s more conspicuous than that?

It’s also worth noting that Japanese fruit growers put a lot of work into producing premium fruit. For example they tie little bags over every peach on a tree. The trees themselves grow very old and are trained over frames to optimise light penetration and enable easier access to the fruit.

As other posters have mentioned there are normally priced commodities in Japan too. We get absolutely delicious kyoho grapes in season that while a little pricier than the bog-standard grapes are well worth it.

While the price extremes at these auctions are interesting, they tend to misrepresent food pricing in general in Japan.


As for diamonds… they’re not /nearly/ as rare as you’d think. One group of people (de beers) controls virtually the entire world’s production and sales. The perception of rarity and value is mostly due to something like a hundred-year-long advertising campaign by said company, and the fact that they actively limit production/sale of jewelry-grade diamonds to maintain the illusion of rarity.


Oh definitely! In this instance, the grapes are a special type, and are carefully graded for quality. Part of the interest in eating them is in the rarity, but also the rarity comes from the carefully-controlled quality.

I suppose the Japanese One Percent need something to do with their money.

De Beers now controls less than half the market. However, the new distributors are more than happy to keep riding on DB’s unbelievable successful ‘diamonds = love’ marketing campaign, so there isn’t much change. I thought the blood diamonds debacle would drive a stake through the saccharine, romantic notion… it doesn’t look like it.