All About Japan

Get to Know the Real Wasabi

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Great Big Story, a video network dedicated to “the untold, overlooked and flat out amazing,” recently teamed up with All Nippon Airways to create a short clip exploring the fine art of wasabi cultivation. Called “The Wasabi You Eat Probably Isn’t Wasabi,” the clip is filmed in the beautiful countryside of Hotaka, in Nagano Prefecture, where workers at the Daio Wasabi Farm explain the intricate requirements involved in cultivating what’s been dubbed the “hardest plant to grow.” It’s this difficulty in cultivation that’s led to wasabi being substituted for horseradish with green food coloring overseas, which means many people end up missing out on the true flavor of the rare and unique plant.

So do you think you’ve ever had real wasabi? Unless you’re in Japan, where you can buy the Wasabia japonica plant—which requires grinding on a shark skin grater to release its flavor—chances are you’ve been eating horseradish colored to look like wasabi.

Given the plant’s requirements for growth, which include using 13-18 degrees Celsius (55-64°F) spring water, a particular amount of shade and sunlight, and a year-and-a-half in the soil, wasabi can be incredibly expensive to buy.

Due to its high cost, it’s rare to find real wasabi plants outside Japan. Once you’ve tasted the real thing, however, you’ll know that it’s not just spicy: it has a complex, sweet flavor as well.

As the plant is so rare overseas, real wasabi is one of those uniquely Japanese experiences you should definitely try during a visit to the country. With a number of wasabi farms welcoming visitors with unusual treats like wasabi ice cream, noodles and juice, a trip to a local producer is always a fun and eye-opening experience!

If you're thinking of paying a visit to the Daio Wasabi Farm, click on the full story at RocketNews24 for the farm's address and hours of operation.

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