Japan is known for its crazily expensive fruit, but is the Ruby Roman really worth the exorbitant price tag?

In 2016, a bunch of about 30 grapes sold for 1.1 million yen (US$10,190) in Japan, and since then the same variety of grapes has been hitting record highs every year, with a bunch at this year’s first wholesale market auction selling for 1.2 million yen.

The variety is called Ruby Roman, a type of grape which was named by a public vote and made its first debut in 2008. Grown exclusively in Ishikawa Prefecture, Ruby Roman grapes are required to weigh at least 20 grams and have an 18-percent sugar content, leading them to be prized for their sweetness and low acidity.

Every grape is carefully inspected to guarantee its quality, with bunches being sold in high-end department stores and specialty shops like Takano, an esteemed Shinjuku-based fruit purveyor with a long-standing reputation that goes all the way back to 1885.

We stopped by Takano to take a look at their Ruby Romans, where we raised our eyes in surprise at the price tag.

▼ A bunch of Ruby Roman grapes retails for 43,200 yen (US$400.50).

Just as we began to lament the fact that we’d never be able to afford such a decadent purchase, we turned around to the display case and saw they had some more affordable options for those wanting to get a taste of the grape on a budget.

▼ Single grapes on sale for 1,080 yen (US$10.01).

We’d never usually pay $10 for a single grape, but after seeing a bunch on display for $400, we figured this was a bargain. We took our prized purchase back to the office, where we could take a closer look at its beauty.

The solitary fruit was beautifully presented in a single box, sitting upon a grape-coloured paper like a queen on a throne.


The grape came with a little note that said “Please eat as soon as possible”.

That wasn’t going to be difficult, as our taste buds had already begun salivating at the sight of the plump, oversized grape, which was roughly the size of a ping pong ball.

Popping it on a plate, we could see the fruit had been picked at peak ripeness, with the knobbly end of the stem still attached to keep it at its freshest.

Staff at the store had advised us to refrigerate the grape before eating to really experience its best flavour. They also told us that, like many Japanese grapes, the Ruby Roman needed to be peeled before being consumed, so that’s exactly what we did.

After carefully peeling away the thick skin, we could see that this was one heck of a juicy grape.

▼ The naked beauty then bared its golden, red-flecked flesh to us, its moist surface glistening in the light.

Wanting to see more, we took out a knife and sliced it through the centre. This is when we became really curious, as it kind of looked like a grape, but entirely different at the same time.

To really see how different it was, we sliced up a regular grape to compare. The common grape had a more oval shape, much firmer flesh, and a tighter centre.

The Ruby Roman, on the other hand, was much more plump and rounded, with paler colours and a moist centre that dripped with juice as we sliced into it.

So how did it taste? Well, in a word, extraordinary. It was far from being an everyday, ordinary grape, as the level of sweetness, and the thick, syrupy texture of the liquid that burst onto the tongue, was more akin to a lychee. Surprisingly, though, it had a lovely grape taste which was so juicy and flavourful that it was just like having a mouthful of grape juice. In fact, it was so juicy that it melted on the tongue in moments, disappearing with a refreshing aftertaste that left us longing for just one more.

We couldn’t afford one more, though, so our fleeting encounter with the $10 grape was over as soon as it had begun. It was a memorable experience that was definitely worth the price tag, and now we can add it right behind the $29 Japanese persimmon on our list of expensive fruit experiences.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!