Growing Wasabi in the Mountains of Japan
When people think of Wasabi farms the image that springs to mind is somewhere high in the mountains using a cold pure mountain stream to provide all the growing requirements the plants need.
Here is a video that show the Traditional Wasabi Growing system that most people associate with Wasabi growing. It is in the Japanese mountains and can only be reached in foot along a steep and winding track.
The video above shows a small Wasabi growing operation deep in the Japanese mountains. When you see the amount of manual work that has gone into setting this farm up you can understand why these sort of farms are dying out. The last one to be built is reputed to be over 200 years old.
These farms are still being used by members of the original families who put the effort and man-hours in moving rocks, making the beds and generally nurturing the whole area and stream to get Wasabi growing successfully. However, as older members of the family die there are fewer and fewer young people who are willing to take over these traditional farms and they are falling into disuse and disrepair. The younger people do not want in the cold mountains and having a daily hike up and down the mountains to make a living. They would rather live in a city and work in an office.
Would you like to work high in the mountains when there is ice and snow about, and your hands and feet are getting frozen by the low temperature water you are working in, even in the summer?
An amazing amount of hard work required
As you can see from this video there is only a narrow walking path to this Japanese Traditional Wasabi Growing Farm. So all the rocks to make these growing beds would have to be carried up the mountain, and then carefully fitted together so that the first lot of water through does not collapse the whole thing.
Then once it is all set up and water flowing and plants growing, a daily walk up and down the mountain to make sure nothing had happened to destroy the growing bed would be required. These farmers must have been ultra fit with the stamina of mountain goats.
Once it is ready for harvesting then all the harvested wasabi must be manually picked and then carted down the mountain to be cleaned up and made ready for the market.
Then back up the mountain to make the growing beds ready for the next lot of wasabi seedlings. And then the cycle repeats.
When you see this and realise the amount of work and dedication it must take to operate these types of Traditional Japanese Wasabi Farms, it is not really any wonder that the sons and daughters of the owners of these Traditional Wasabi Growing Farms are not keen on following the old family business. They want to be in offices or factories keeping warm and dry instead of walking up and down mountains getting freezing cold and wet on a daily basis.
Most, if not all of the wasabi grown on this type of Japanese Traditional Wasabi Growing Farm will be sold in the local markets close to the farm.
Is there a future for these Japanese Traditional Wasabi Farms?
Long term, I suspect that there isn't a reasonable future for these type of Wasabi farms in Japan.
What may happen is that the Japanese Government declares the growing of Wasabi as a Traditional Skill and it should be protected and encouraged.
Those working in crafts are eligible for recognition either individually (Individual Certification) or as part of a group (Preservation Group Certification) into the list of Living National Treasures of Japan (crafts). Some crafts enjoy status as meibutsu, or regional specialties.
Each craft demands a set of specialized skills. Japanese craft works serve a functional or utilitarian purpose, though they may be handled and exhibited similar to visual art objects.
Even before the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster made a significant number of these small streams too radioactive to use for food production, there was only a tiny amount of Japanese grown wasabi available outside Japan. Most “Japanese” wasabi found on the world market is actually not grown in Japan and is purchased by the Japanese manufacturers to use in their “fake” wasabi products.
The destruction of the Japanese Traditional Wasabi Farm is taking place with the active encouragement of Japanese "fake wasabi" manufacturers who have managed to convince the Western world since the end of World War 2 that "fake wasabi" is the real wasabi.
If you want to grow Wasabi to supply the ever increasing demand for True Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) then use the form in the sidebar to get more information about the training we can offer.
If you want to get some True Wasabi to taste the difference then click on the banner below.
You can purchase 100% Pure Wasabia japonica rhizome powder here. This powder is freeze dried to retain all the ITC content and contains no additives.
Copyright: 2017 - Present; World Wasabi Inc., All rights reserved