• 47 COOL
  • 9
    Ranking

High-quality wasabi is nurtured in terraced fields with clean flowing spring water

Wasabi — green horseradish — is an indispensable relish for sashimi and sushi. Since the 1700s, wasabi cultivation has been a local industry at the foot of Mount Amagi of Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Pref. In this region, wasabi is typically grown in terraced paddy-like fields that receive the natural blessing of ample clean spring water from the mountain. Wasabi in this area is known for its extremely pleasant flavor.
It’s said that readily growing wasabi actually takes one to two years. The thick mature stem of the plant, which grows primarily submerged, is grated and turned into a spicy relish. Freshly grated wasabi has a stimulating mustard-type flavor, which “goes up the nose” when tasting it. Some sushi chefs call wasabi “tears” because it brings tears to the eyes.
Nobuaki Inaba is the fourth-generation representative of a wasabi farm located in the Amagi region. He cultivates a wasabi-en (wasabi garden) named Kadoya that also features a restaurant. It’s constantly crowded with local people and sightseers because its simple cuisine — which makes bold use of wasabi — attracts a following.

Enabling people to enjoy the essential taste of wasabi

Nama-Wasabi-Don, a dish served in Mr. Inaba’s restaurant, is a bowl of hot steamed rice topped with shaved bonito and accompanied with fresh wasabi and a little soy sauce. The flavor of the wasabi — its essential mustard-like spiciness, as well as green freshness and softly sweet fragrance — unfolds as you taste it, inspiring you to enjoy the delicious rice. This extremely simple bowl meal allows you to experience the true joy of wasabi.
“Enabling people to enjoy the true taste of wasabi is my longtime dream. That’s why I thought a long time about how I could help people easily enjoy the real delicacy of wasabi. In order to give our wasabi the main role in cuisine, it was important to minimize other food ingredients.”
Mr. Inaba provides some tips for greatest enjoyment of his Nama-Wasabi-Don.
He explains, “Please use wasabi from the upper part of the stem and try to grate it as finely as possible. This emphasizes the spiciness and fresh fragrance. Also, pour soy sauce around the wasabi, rather than over it. When soy sauce is directly mixed with wasabi, the fragrance fades.”

Mission: passing down appreciation for real wasabi from ancient Japan

From childhood, Mr. Inaba was familiar with the family legacy of wasabi cultivation, and at a young age, he determined to continue his parents’ business. So his life has been devoted to wasabi from the beginning. For him, it’s a great pleasure to grow wasabi surrounded by the blessings of nature in the Amagi region.
Mr. Inaba says, “What’s most important for wasabi cultivation is the water alone. Only soft water is suited to it, and the best water temperature is around 12°C (54°F). Wasabi doesn’t grow ideally if these natural conditions are not readily met. This is the reason why we can find wasabi fields only in very limited areas, even in Japan.”
He has a passion for his mission — to pass on the true taste and appeal of wasabi. His firm commitment to this goal is apparent in his views.
He continues, “I’m honored to pass along traditional farming products inherited from ancient Japan to future generations. I believe wasabi is another aspect of Cool Japan.” He laughs. “Some people say they enjoyed wasabi here for the first time. Other people say they never realized wasabi could be so sweet. It’s a pleasure to hear these comments. I’m really fortunate to be engaged in this work.”

Typical WASABI

  • Home-made wasabi liqueurHomemade wasabi liqueur
  • Wasabi soba noodles plus fresh wasabi stemWasabi soba noodles
    plus fresh wasabi stem
  • Nama-Wasabi-Don (a bowl of rice with fresh wasabi stem)Nama-Wasabi-Don
    (a bowl of rice with fresh wasabi stem)
  • Bowl of wasabi rice with tea plus fresh wasabi stemBowl of wasabi rice with tea plus fresh wasabi stem

Nobuaki Inaba's Favorite Tools

  • Grater

    Grater

    Wasabi is enjoyed after grating the stem using this grater. The rough surface attached to this wooden board and handle is... sharkskin. Closely spaced minute bumps on its surface serve as an ideal texture to grate excellently flavored wasabi.

URUSHI
漆芸
SOBA
蕎麦
RICE CAKES
TEMPURA
天婦羅
Massage chair
マッサージチェア
Sake(Japanese rice wine)
日本酒
Karaoke
カラオケ
Iced coffee
アイス珈琲
Harajuku girl
原宿ガール
Tokyo Tower
東京タワー
Shinjuku
新宿
Asakusa
浅草
Sanshin
三線
International Avenue
国際通り
Kachaashii
カチャーシー
Umi-budoh
海ぶどう
Japan
ANA
Thailand
Summer Wars
Japan
Suite PreCure
Taiwan
Mobile Suit Gundam
I want to become Hello Kitty, the icon of Japan.
“Twintail” — simple dream-come-true magic for change.
The color wizard behind 80s kawaii revival.
How global fans see Japan: kawaii heaven.
Ikkyu-ji Natto
一休寺納豆
Mizuura Mikuji
水占みくじ
Jidai Matsuri
時代祭
Café from another world
純喫茶
FUJIKO F. FUJIO MUSEUM
manga master who “visualized” children’s dreams
AKIRA BIKE
enthusiasts create a dream machine from the world of Otomo’s AKIRA
GAME BAR
a gathering spot for grownups where old games are available
SPACE BROTHERS
super-popular manga depicts the dreams of youths dedicated to space
Hasamiyaki ceramics
波佐見焼
Elevator attendants
エレベーターアテンダント
Daruma
達磨
Japanese sake
日本酒
MANABU IKEDA
YAYOI KUSAMA
KOHEI NAWA
HISASHI TENMYOUYA
MENBURYU
SANJA MATSURI
NIIHAMA TAIKO MATSURI
NACHI-NO-OGI MATSURI
NOH
KENDO
剣道
SHODO
書道
KARATEDO
空手
KACCHU-SHI
甲冑師
KATANA-KAJI
刀鍛冶
FOOD MODEL CRAFTSMAN
食品サンプル職人
SENSHOKU-KA
染織家
SHOGI
SHOGI
GAME CENTER
GAME CENTER
PLAY STATION
PlayStation
e-Sports
e-Sports