I thought that I wrote about Yubari before, but just realised that I didn't because I couldn't find the piece of footage I wanted online. That piece of footage was one of the saddest I had ever seen on TV - Yubari Robot Museum being torn down by JCBs, the front of the building being torn away and revealing a giant robot statue inside that was, in turn, torn down. It ran on the local news and I found a link to the piece online, but in the end it's probably for the best that I couldn't post that story because your heart would have wept.
Yubari is a small mountain town in Hokkaido, famous for delicious sweet orange melons, that has fallen on hard times. When the coal mines shut down a huge effort was made to turn the town into a tourist centre, with a Robot Museum, an international film festival (that Quentin Tarantino attended), and various other tourist attractions. Sadly it didn't work out and the town borrowed so heavily to finance these endeavours that it bankrupted itself and now, as several people have told me who have visited the place in the last year, it's dying slowly.
So, it doesn't really cheer me up to read about the latest blow that Yubari has suffered: the first melons of the season haven't sold for as much as they did last year.
I have tried Yubari melons and they are really, really tasty. Melon usually inspires in me a feeling of ambivalence or mild distaste, but Yubari melons are incredibly sweet and delicious. That said they are crazy expensive, and while that article wants to point out that the recession is hitting luxury items hard, the guy they interview at the end is probably right - the prices for the first melons of the season were just insane for the last few years - $5000 is probably much more reasonable for a pair of melons.
Man, there's one of those sentences that you never expect to type in your life.