A Wasabi Farmer Speaks About Wasabi
This video is「WASABI – IS JAPAN COOL? WASHOKU – 和食（山葵）」created by「ANA Global Channel」. It shows a wasabi farmer from Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島, Izuhanto) in Shizukoka prefecture (静岡県, Shizuoka-ken) speaking about the attraction and production process of wasabi.
Wasabi is an edible native Japanese plant of the Brassicaceae Wasabia family and is said to
have grown naturally since the Asuka Period (AD ~538-710).
In this 9-minute video, Inaba Nobuaki, owner of “Wasabi-en Kadoya,” located in Kawazu town (河津, Kawazu) of Kamo District (賀茂郡, Kamogun), Shizuoka Prefecture, explains the attraction, production process and ways to enjoy wasabi.
What Is Wasabi? How Is It Cultivated?
There are two ways to cultivate wasabi; “Water Wasabi” (Valley Wasabi, Swamp Wasabi) cultivated in mountain streams and spring water, and “Field Wasabi” (Land Wasabi) which is cultivated in fields.
The cultivation method introduced in this video is “Water Wasabi” and takes 1-2 years to cultivate.
The wasabi is cultivated in flooded paddy fields, which turn to mud after one or two years.
The farmers wash away the mud, level the field, and plant and harvest wasabi all year round.
Water management is crucial and is a fight against the merciless forces of nature, for often typhoons and other floods strike the region.
This is explained by Inaba Nobuaki of “Wasabi-en Kadoya” from 0:26 in the video.
Wasabi is cultivated all year round, but the flavor and size vary by season.
The best season is from autumn to winter.
Wasabi was introduced in the Amagi Region (天城, Amagi), where “Wasabi-en Kadoya”
is located, sometime during the mid-Edo Period.
Izu Peninsula is suited for wasabi cultivation, due to its heavy rainfall and soft spring water.
The reason why wasabi hasn’t spread worldwide is because this type of natural environment doesn’t exist elsewhere, as is explained by Inaba Nobuaki from 2:36.
Shizuoka Prefecture is famous for its wasabi cultivation, and is the number one area for cultivation and production in Japan.
The Best Ways to Enjoy Wasabi
Now that you know how wasabi is grown, you probably want to know how to best enjoy it!
Most people try to enjoy delicious wasabi with expensive foods such as sashimi and sushi. But a simple and low cost way to enjoy wasabi is the “Wasabi Bowl” that “Wasabi-en Kadoya” serves.
It is an extremely simple dish; dried bonito sprinkled over some fresh hot rice, with a dash of freshly grated wasabi on top.
This can be seen from 4:01 in the video.
The soy sauce will deprive the wasabi of its flavor, so it’s important not to
pour the soy sauce directly onto the wasabi.
Wasabi’s spiciness is created when the cell walls are broken, so the taste varies
greatly depending on how finely you grate the wasabi.
A delicious wasabi has five traits: great fragrance, spiciness, sweetness, adhesiveness, and a deep green color, as explained at 5:27 in the video.
To make use of wasabi’s disinfectant qualities, you can eat vegetables with wasabi
or have some wasabi ice cream for dessert.
Also, the top and bottom of the wasabi stem have different tastes!
The top has a mild flavor that is pleasant.
The video explains at 7:50 that the best way to store leftover wasabi is not to
put it in a cup of water, but to wrap it in newspaper, put it in a plastic bag,
then store it in the refrigerator.
If you ever visit Shizuoka, how about some wasabi products as a souvenir?
“Wasabi Pickles,” “Wasabeef Chips,” “Wasabi Beads” (which are shaped like
salmon roe), “Wasabi Greens,” “Tubed Wasabi,” “Hon-Wasabi,” “Wasabi powder,” and “Wasabi paste” are some of the most popular products.
These are sold in Amagi Wasabi Village (天城わさびの里, Amagiwasabinosato), located inside the roadside station “Amagigoe” (天城越え,Amagigoe), Izu Town (伊豆市, Izushi) which is near “Wasabi-en Kadoya,” and also by online retailers such as Amazon or Rakuten.
Summary of Wasabi
In recent years, wasabi has come to be appreciated for its health benefits, such as weight loss assistance.
Hopefully this video has helped you learn about wasabi, the integral seasoning for
every Japanese household!
This video also introduces the best ways to eat wasabi, so if you are interested
in Japanese food or just food in general, be sure to check it out!