Shizuoka City, in Utogi for that matter, is the birthplace of wasabi. But the city itself is very large, the second largest city in Japan, area wise, and wasabi is grown in many other spots along the Abe River in particular.
my chef friends and I had to drive a long way up as proved by the snow still clinging to the mountains in the background. Actually these mountains are still part of Shizuoka City!
This is still much rural traditional Japan as typified by the Sugiyamas’family farmhouse!
It still took us one more mire to meet Masahiro’s family busy harvesting wasabi in their fields at 600 meter-altitude!
As Masahiro is the third generation as far as wasabi is concerned (he also grows tea, shiitake, konyaku roots and so on) you can see the second generation represented by his parents and the 4th generation in the person of his daughter still studying at Agricultural University in Hokkaido!
The wasabi fields which have to be protected from monkeys, wild boars, deer and other pests!
These wasabi which take about 12 to 18 months to grow from seedlings are almost ready for harvest which is conducted all year round.
Wasabi culture is organic when sawa wasabi/fresh running water wasabi is concerned.
Masahiro, for better protection against disease and insects prefers to buy his seedlings from a nearby grower than to make his own seedlings.
Uprooting and cleaning the fresh wasabi.
Wasabi culture is a tough job daily conducted whatever the temperature although the water has a constant temperature between 12 and 16 degrees all year round.
Seedlings recently replanted.
The wasabi fields water is directly pumped from the Abe River flowing along.
We are not far from the source of the Abe River and the water here is pure and untouched!
But for the wasabi fields this is wild country here!
If it were not for the blue tents you wouldn’t know that agriculture is conducted there!
I can assure you that all protection is needed as we discovered whole groups of monkeys prowling nearby!
Only a single narrow road, recently paved, gives access!
It is still winter up there!
Those “steps/dams” were built a long time ago and they don’t interfere with the purity of the water.
Not only the roots of these wasabi but also the leaves and stems are very popular with the local chefs who order directly from Masahiro Sugiyama according to their own specifications!
Another big crop of the precious vegetable!
Ready to to the farmhouse!
For a clsoder look!
These will be cleaned and separated in roots, stems and leaves and even flowers which are all edible!
Now this was a great discovery: wild cress growing in the same water!
We all took batches back home! So sweet and crunchy! You will find such at supermarkets!
More hard work back at the farm where all the roots, stems, leaves and flowers have to be separated, cleaned and packed for immediate delivery!
No wonder these beauties fetch such a price (mind you, they are comparatively cheap here!)!
SUGIYAMA NOEN/SUGIYAMA FARM
Masahiro Sugiyama, Wasabi Grower
421-2301 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Umegashima, 5504
RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES
Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,
Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents
HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City