The Daio Wasabi Farm is one of Japan’s largest wasabi farms and covers an area of 15 hectares. The farm began in 1915 and is located near Matsumoto which is a mountain city on Japan’s main island, Honshu, in Nagano Prefecture. At the farm, the wasabi is irrigated by a network of small streams that supply fresh water from the Hida mountains. The water provides the necessary nutrients for wasabi to flourish and during the months from May to October you can see the vast shading black cloth protecting wasabi plants from the sun.
Wasabi likes growing in a shady environments
At the Daio wasabi farm, there are many trails along the fields, especially the Daio Shrine, which signifies Hachimen Daio, the farm’s protector. Another exciting feature of the farm is the wooden water wheels beside the river. The water wheel was constructed in 1989 for the film set Dreams directed by Kurosawa Akira.
There are several interesting shops and a restaurant on the farm which sell a wide range of wasabi produce including fresh wasabi rhizomes, wasabi beverages, wasabi chocolate and wasabi ice cream. It is possible to visit the teahouse once acquainted by Emperor Akihito in 1976 when he was the Crown Prince.
At the farm you have the opportunity to demonstrate your cooking skills by preparing your own wasabi dish and you can take it home to enjoy.
Wasabi requires special care because it is notoriously difficult to grow!
It is amazing to see the rows upon rows of wasabi plants which extend over 15 hectares of fields. The wasabi plants sit on top of raised gravel beds between two small streams on either side with freshwater constantly irrigating the roots. These plants do not like direct sunlight and in fine weather wasabi is protected from the sun and heat by black shading cloth.
Interestingly, wasabi has shown to have antibacterial properties and indeed was an essential for the shoguns and noblemen’s dining table over the past thousand years. In addition, wasabi is effective against Escherichia coli O157 (VTEC), which is the primary cause of food poisoning. Moreover, it is also said that wasabi produces medical effects upon for example prevention of cerebral thrombosis and myocardial infarction as well as anti-cancer properties.
It is possible to consume the whole wasabi plant including its green heart-shaped leaves and budding white delicate flowers. This oriental herb originated in Japan and its scientific name is Wasabia japonica. The unique properties of wasabi contains the ability to stimulate the nasal cavity: this is not found in other herbs.
How to eat fresh wasabi?
- Carefully peel off the stems one by one from the outside.
- Remove the black part of the root’s outer skin which is due to the natural oxidation process.
- Using a fine grater, gently grate the rhizome in a circular motion.
- The fresh wasabi paste can be used in your favourite dish or beverage.
Make it more spicy
Place a small amount of white sugar on the grater and grate the rhizome. The wasabi heat dissipates with sugar creating a unique aroma and the spiciness of wasabi.
Enjoy Fresh Wasabi