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The Azumino Wasabi Farm

The Azumino Wasabi Farm

I love wasabi! You must remember the french movie “Wasabi” (with the cutie Hirosue Ryoko!) in which we see in a scene actor Jean Reno gobble some wasabi paste with his big fingers!? Well, it’s same thing with me: I gobble it straight; however (we must specify) with much finesse and necessarily with chopsticks. Ah, I didn’t even know what a wasabi root looked like before living in Japan…

Japanese Alps Azumino

Obviously, when in Japan, we see wasabi everywhere in the supermarkets, street markets and even in some restaurants where we can shred it ourselves. But… the wasabi farming? No idea!

We are now in Azumino, right in the middle of the Japanese Alps. A wonderful area for many reasons…

Azumino Fisherman

… one of which is its well-reknown wasabi farm! It’s the Daiō Wasabi Farm, a one family farm which exist since 1915. You’ve never seen a wasabi? Well, here is a statue of one. You are now introduced.

Wasabi Statue

The wasabi farming seen to be a very difficult one and each farm has its own ancestral ways and secrets. Yet there is a common element: a fresh water current ( courtesy of the surrounding mountains ). In the picture below, we see some stretched black nets which protect the plants from the sun.

Wasabi Fields

Those plants still looks really small… And a wasabi must reach 2 to 3 years before being edible! With the demand, the prices and the strong currency… those problems in Japan, we know, so more and more restaurants nowadays get their supply from China or Taiwan. The wasabi is transported from these countries and sold as dental paste. Yes, that’s what we usually find in France, and many other countries. This one is way less tasty and is scorches more your eyes.

Little Wasabis

We go in and around the farm like in a park : it’s beautiful, there are some paths everywhere, benches, we can relax and enjoy this sunny day.

Wasabi Wasabi

Once you’re rolled out of these wasabi highways, you can then try the wasabi beer, the wasabi cakes, the wasabi ice cream, the wasabi croquettes, the wasabi lemonade, the wasabi sushi, buy some omiyage for your friends and workmates and then, when you’ve really had it… there is a nice spot to relax, fortunately!

Wasabi Highway

Actually, this trip wasn’t really for the wasabi farm but for this actual spot…

Peaceful River Nagano

It’s a magically-coloured stream strewn with water mills. Moreover, it’s clearly paradise for your ears. Listen:

http://offbeatjapan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Watermill.mp3

The spot is marvellous: the birds, the sound of the water and the squealing mills… and from time to time, a damn mosquito.

Azumino Watermill

This scenery isn’t really the place that doesn’t stand out, and thus is unfortunately not a secret as we would like it to be. In 1990, it was put on screens in the Kurosawa Akira movie “Dreams”, in a part called “The Village of the Watermills”.

Watermill Nagano

We spend a long moment beside those old watermills, listening to them and watching the wild grass waving in the water. This spot is simply a marvel.

Azumino Fields

Not far from there is the Kurobe Dam. If you didn’t visit it yet, now’s the time 🙂

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How to go
– 30mn from Matsumoto Station by train + taxi (Google Maps).
– Matsumoto is 3 hours from Tokyo (Google Maps).

Where to stay
– Traditional: Ryokan Sugimoto
– Budget: Matsumoto Tokyu Inn

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Who Am I

I am Jordy Meow, a French photographer living in Japan. I explore discover offbeat and lesser known places in Japan. Wish to see more, or to help me? Here is my Patreon.

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