The Exquisite and Expensive Japanese Strawberry
The Exquisite and Expensive Japanese Strawberry: Bijin-Hime, known as the ‘Beautiful Princess,’ is a Japanese strawberry variety renowned for its exquisite shape, color, and unparalleled flavor, making it one of the world’s most expensive fruits, with prices reaching up to $350 per piece.
Created by Mikio Okuda, a Japanese farmer with over 45 years of experience in strawberry cultivation and more than 15 years of trial and error, Bijin-Hime has gained worldwide acclaim as a highly esteemed strawberry variety. While the largest fruits are about the size of a tennis ball, weighing approximately 100 grams, it is not the size alone that sets the Beautiful Princess apart. Well, in a way, it does, but not as one might expect. Typically, larger strawberries tend to have less flavor and sweetness, but this is certainly not the case with Bijin-Hime strawberries. With a rating of 13 degrees Brix, significantly surpassing the 10-degree Brix strawberry standard, they offer a remarkably sweeter taste and a delightful hint of rose flavor.
Bijin-Hime strawberries are known for their ideal texture, striking a perfect balance between softness and firmness. The vibrant red color of their glossy skin permeates throughout the fruit, and unlike supermarket varieties, they lack any acidity or unpleasant aftertaste.
Similar to many other Japanese strawberry growers, Mikio Okuda cultivates his Beautiful Princess variety during the winter months, carefully monitoring soil and air temperatures inside his greenhouses at Okuda Farms in Hashima, Gifu Prefecture. The slow ripening process may be one of the secrets behind the strawberries’ exceptional sweetness and intense flavor, although Okuda is reluctant to disclose too much information, and rightfully so.
After 15 years of cross-breeding strawberries, Mikio Okuda finally achieved his goal of developing a large, perfectly shaped strawberry with exceptional flavor in the form of Bijin-Hime. However, the process is still not flawless, as some fruits turn out round, resembling fleshy globes, rendering them unsuitable for commercialization. CNN reports that Okuda only produces around 500 market-worthy strawberries per year.
In a country where high-quality fruits are considered incredibly valuable, Mikio Okuda’s Beautiful Princess strawberries are highly sought after. In one auction, a single particularly large Bijin-Hime strawberry fetched a price of 50,000 yen ($350). Some sources claim that the most expensive one was sold for $500, although we haven’t found any concrete evidence to support this. Nevertheless, the idea of paying $350 for a single strawberry seems absurd.
Interestingly, all Bijin-Hime strawberry plants are clones of the original plant developed by Mikio Okuda, which means growers cannot simply grow their own Beautiful Princesses from strawberry seeds.