Deep Japan: The Complete Wasabi Guide

Article by John Daub, originally published on Deep Japan

What exactly is wasabi anyway?

If you’ve ever eaten sushi, chances are that you’ve had wasabi. It’s that spicy green stuff that makes your head explode!
I see wasabi in a lot of snacks these days, but it hit me one day that I really had no idea what this magic green root was … was it even a root?


* Wasabi is not a root, it’s a stem (because it’s grown submerged in water).
* It takes 12-18 months to grow just one.
* There is no way to tell the size before it is pulled. A big one is like finding a diamond.
* It’s not a horseradish.
* Fresh wasabi loses it’s spiciness 15 minutes after grating. That’s why sushi chefs put it under the fish on the rice.
* Wasabi is loaded with vitamin C and is good for digestion. Some consider it a superfood.

Daio Wasabi Farm is the largest in Japan

DAIO WASABI FARM is in Azumino (city) in Nagano prefecture. It’s about a 3 hour trip by car or train. Entry to the farm is free.

Apart from seeing all the wasabi in the river, you can walk around the farm which has been featured in numerous TV shows and movies for its traditional landscape. It’s most famous appearance was int he 1990 Kurasawa film DREAMS in the “World of Watermills” scene.

You can also take a cooking class. For 1030 yen / 20 minutes, try your hand at wasabi cuisine by making a snack. You also get to take home what you make. Now that’s a real HOT deal.

The farm also has wasabi flavored EVERYTHING!
Try the wasabi soft ice cream for 380 yen.
The wasabi burger is pretty good, too. It’s got fresh wasabi leaves in it. How about a wasabi beer? It costs you 520 yen and yes, there are loads of wasabi pieces to give you that kick in the mouth you’re dying for.
The gift shop is loaded with more wasabi than any other place on the globe! Honestly, just the shop is worth the trip.

The wasabi itself is reasonably priced here. Small stems go for 500 yen and the largest ones are 3000 yen. To put it in perspective, that large one can go for 10,000 yen in Tokyo and even more if exported! They come in a bag filled with water so it’ll stay fresh for a few days.

Wasabi beer up close!

If you’re looking for something else to see in Nagano besides the snow monkeys, the sky slopes and the onsen, add in this farm. In fact, this place is worth a special trip all by itself!

DAIO WASABI FARM is open from 09:30 to 17:30 (09:30 to 16:30 in the winter).

Google Map: 


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