Many people might think the wasabi we eat at Japanese restaurants or the green wasabi powder that has to be mixed with water is ‘wasabi’. They might be called wasabi but they are not the real thing. They are made from horseradish, mustard powder, food coloring and a sprinkle of real wasabi. I wanted to meet face to face with the authentic wasabi, so off I go to the wasabi farm of Azumino town, Nagano, ‘The Daio Wasabi Farm’.
Daio Wasabi Farm is quite a large farm. There are several paths going throughout the fields which got me up close & personal to the star ‘wasabi’. Daio Wasabi Farm is using the Sawa method which is to plant wasabi semi-aquatically in running water and the water temperature has to be at about 13℃. Wasabi that is planted this way has the taste that is closest to the plants that grow in the wild. During the months of May to October the wasabi field has black mesh stretched across for sun protection.
The paths went through a set of very picturesque traditional water wheels. They were built for filming the movie "Dreams", and it sure looks like a dream. Many artists had their tools spread out, painting the scene. In the summer, there will be rubber raft tour that costs from 900-1800 yen.
There are many beautiful and attractive corners set up nicely within the farm. People who love photography will enjoy it here. In addition to the star ‘wasabi’, there are small shrines, caves, hills, wildflowers and bridges over the wasabi meadows. I spent a lot of time taking photos and relaxing that made me miss other places I had planned to visit. I think it was worth it to have come to visit here.
The farm also offers some wasabi cooking classes, restaurants serving wasabi-related dishes and shops selling goods made with wasabi. I tried the wasabi soft ice cream and wasabi crackers. They both were delicious. The soft ice cream does not have any of the spicy flavor of wasabi, it has a nutty taste instead. On the other hand the crackers come in all the flavors. They are ‘sweet - salty - savory and delicious’.
Please stay tuned for the Daio Wasabi Farm, Part 2.