The high-end Juno Heart variety of cherries are sold at auction in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, on June 25. (Kuratoshi Yokoyama)

HACHINOHE, Aomori Prefecture--A single high-end variety of cherry fetched 40,000 yen ($296) during this year’s first auction here of the fruit, drawing gasps among bidders and spectators.

Around 50 boxes of the glossy, crimson-colored Juno Heart cherry variety were on offer at the morning auction on June 25.

The Juno Heart was developed by an Aomori Prefecture-affiliated research center as an upscale gift item. They are among the largest of cherries grown in Japan.

To meet the standards of the Juno Heart, cherries must measure more than 2.8 centimeters in diameter and have 20-degree sugar content.

The box of the Aomori Heartbeat cherry that fetched the highest price of 600,000 yen per box. (Kuratoshi Yokoyama)

Of the Juno Heart, only those measuring at least 3.1 cm across are called Aomori Heartbeat, making them the pick of the crop.

A box of 15 Aomori Heartbeat cherries fetched 600,000 yen at the auction, surpassing last year’s 450,000 yen.

The successful bidder was Nagatsuka Seika, a Chiba Prefecture-based company dealing in fruits and vegetables.

“These are cherries you cannot find anywhere else,” said Kyoko Nagatsuka, president of the company.

She said the company will sell the cherries in its shop in Chiba Prefecture close to Tokyo.