Complete Wasabi Guide

If you’ve ever eaten sushi, you know about wasabi. It’s green and sort of spicy, the kind of spicy that burns through the nose. Pretty awesome, right?

It dawned on me that after many years in Japan, I knew very little about this plant.
I mean, was it even a condiment? How’s it grown? Where does it come from? How much does fresh wasabi really cost? Is it a root?
I had a lot of questions. Daio Wasabi Farm in Nagano had all the answers!

wasabi farm

DAIO WASABI FARM is in Nagano Prefecture, a three hour drive or train ride from Tokyo.
Not only do they grow fresh wasabi, Nagano one of the best places in the world to cultivate it and try it fresh. This place is huge! Daio has covered an entire river bed to give the wasabi plant shade.
That’s right. Wasabi is grown in the water.
Each bush os always submerged and wasabi is not a root at all. It’s the stem.
This is why calling it “Japanese Horseradish” is wrong because it’s not horseradish at all.

Oh, and the farm was also a location in a Kurosawa film so that sealed the deal for me to visit.

Let’s get an inside look at these wasabi plants down on the river.
Home sweet home. This is where wasabi resides in Japan.

Wasabi needs a cool place with constant fresh water.

wasabi water

This variety of wasabi is called “hon wasabi” and is used most commonly with sushi. It’s also popular with foods like steak and washoku dishes.

The fresh water that melts from the Japanese alps surrounding it is loaded with the necessary minerals for the wasabi to thrive.

I plucked it from the soil like a carrot, but unlike the carrot, the wasabi stem is covered with leaves and roots to protect it.

Wasabi plant pulled

Where’s the wasabi?

raw wasabi plant

Here it is! I had to wash off some of the soil and tear off the roots and leaves to get to that spicy stem.

raw wasabi plant

The things with wasabi is that you need to eat it fast,
The taste goes away 15 minutes after grating. This is the main reason why wasabi is placed under the sushi – it holds the flavor and kick longer.

wasabi oroshiki

It’s important to note that the green leaves from the wasabi root are also popular in cooking. They have a strong bitter taste and most likely full of vitamins

Some consider wasabi to be one of the superfoods with a ton of health properties.
It could be true. All I know is that those wasabi vapors really kick you in the face every time.
There’s got to be something good about that, right?

COSTS:
Entrance is FREE!
Feel free to walk around and enjoy. There’s a map on the website.
Food prices are very reasonable.
Wasabi Sandwich: 360 yen
Wasabi Beer: 520 yen
Wasabi Soft Ice Cream: 360 yen (cup or cone)
If you want to buy a fresh wasabi stem, prices start at 500 yen for a small one and go up to 3000 yen for a very big one! This is a big discount from Tokyo and yes, it is also much fresher. If you are ever going to buy wasabi, do it here.

wasabi burger
Wasabi burger with wasabi leaf

 

wasabi beer
Wasabi beer

 

COUPONS:

We’re always looking for a discount! Here are some coupons all for the WASABI SOFT ICE CREAM: http://www.daiowasabi.co.jp/images/coupon.pdf

OTHER THINGS TO DO:
DAIO WASABI FARM has a wasabi snack cooking class and you get to keep what you make!
http://www.daiowasabi.co.jp/taiken/taiken.php
20 min class / 1,030 yen

There is a shrine on the far side of the farm.
If you walk to the left by the river, there’s a water wheel and old wooden building where many films and tv shows are shot. It was also the scene in Kurosawa’s film DREAMS (1990).

HOW TO GET THERE:
(With a JAPAN RAIL PASS)
From Tokyo: Take the HOKURIKU SHINKANSEN to Nagano (1hr29min / 4 stops) > Change to the JR SHINONOI LINE and get off at AKASHINA STATION (1hr17min / 11 stops) > Take a taxi 10 minutes or hike for 45 minutes to DAIO WASABI FARM.
See in Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/DzxD3

(Without a JAPAN RAIL PASS)
From Tokyo: Take the JS CHUO LINE Limited Express from Shinjuku Station to Matsumoto (2hrs 35min / 8 stops) > change at Matsumoto to the OITA LINE to HAKUYACHO STATION (28 min / 9 stops) > grab a taxi (10 min / 3.7km) or walk for 35 min to DAIO WASABI FARM.
See in Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/xW0yw

By Car:
Take the CHUO EXPRESS HIGHWAY from Tokyo (238km / 2hrs48min with no traffic)
See in Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/qvC6E

MAP:

Link: https://goo.gl/maps/8W0tf

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Creator and Producer 「ONLY in JAPAN」
President of Weblish Media Ltd.
Reporter for NHK World "Tokyo Eye"
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