Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesians know wasabi as a spicy paste that is usually served with Japanese specialties such as sushi, sashimi, and soba.

Indonesians may consider the spicy taste of wasabi paste unique given that it is different from the spiciness of the chilies they usually consume.

Wasabi is also often enjoyed as a food flavor enhancer in the form of a paste obtained from the tubers of the wasabi plant.

Wasabi tubers are first grated to make the paste, which is served straight away with seafood or grilled meats to enhance their flavor.

As wasabi tubers aren’t easy to come by, the Japanese people usually buy wasabi from supermarkets in the form of wasabi paste that is packaged and ready to consume.

In Japan, wasabi paste is used not only as a flavor enhancer: The Japanese also use it to kill bacteria in raw fish dishes or sashimi.

"Wasabi can also kill bacteria in raw fish that is starting to spoil," said tourism section staff of PT Dayo Wasabi Farm, Kumai Natsuki, when ANTARA had the opportunity to visit the company's wasabi cultivation site as part of the Japan-Indonesia Exchange for Young Journalists program from February 15–21, 2023.

Wasabi can also be used as a freshener for foods such as meat: this usually involves placing grated wasabi on grilled meat.

Among the other benefits of wasabi is that it helps prevent symptoms of aging.

Apart from the tubers, the stalks and leaves of the wasabi plant can also be consumed by processing them into tempura or fried foods.


PT Dayo Wasabi Farm where Kumai works is the largest wasabi producer in Japan.

Located in Azumino city, Nagano Prefecture, the 11-hectare farm consists of cultivation, production, and marketing facilities.

The cultivation site itself consists of several plots of land for planting, with the largest measuring up to one kilometer in length.

Every May, wasabi flowers bloom at the farm. The flowers pollinate naturally to produce seeds.

The seeds obtained from wasabi flower pollination are then transferred to the seeding site.

After the seeds grow into seedlings, they are transferred again for the seed enlargement process.

"So from seed to seedling, it takes 6 months," said Kumai.

After they grow into large seedlings, wasabi seeds are replanted at the horticultural cultivation site.

The wasabi seeds placed there are watered by a naturally gushing spring.

Therefore, the price of wasabi is quite expensive because the plant cannot be grown just anywhere.

The cultivation of wasabi requires a special irrigation system in areas with natural gushing springs.

In Japan, wasabi cultivation is only carried out in three places, the largest being Azumino, then Shizuoka Prefecture, and a small part of Tokyo.

Meanwhile, after large wasabi seeds are replanted at the horticultural cultivation site for 1 year, the wasabi is ready to be harvested and processed into various kinds of food products.

Wasabi tubers can be processed into fresh dishes, while wasabi stems, stalks, and leaves can be processed into cakes, tempura snacks, and other processed products.

"So, it takes up to 1.5 years for wasabi to grow from seedling to harvesting," said Kumai.

Processed products

PT Dayo Wasabi Farm produces up to 60 tons of wasabi products per year.

Most of the products produced by the company are fresh wasabi paste products, which are packaged in various ways.

Wasabi paste can be eaten with fresh dishes. It can also be used as a seasoning and herbal medicine to help prevent aging.

At PT Dayo Wasabi Farm's cultivation site, fresh wasabi paste is also used in ice creams and coffees.

There are also processed products made from wasabi stalks and leaves, which are processed into packaged and ready-to-eat tempura or fried snacks.

When production volumes are large enough, wasabi products are shipped to various locations throughout Japan.

However, as production volumes have continued to decline, most of the products are now being showcased in shops located near wasabi growing areas.

Most of the customers come directly to the stores to buy wasabi products.

The volume of wasabi production at PT Dayo Wasabi Farm has been declining due to the reduced number of natural springs around the cultivation site.

The decline has also been caused by pests and diseases that affect the quality of the wasabi crop.

Meanwhile, apart from being consumed as a complement to daily meals, wasabi is also eaten during celebrations on major holidays in Japan.

In general, Japanese people consume wasabi products that contain 100 percent pure wasabi to celebrate certain holidays because the price of wasabi is very high.

Whereas the wasabi that is eaten daily is usually added with other ingredients and has only about 5–10 percent wasabi content, so its price is much cheaper.

Related news: Japan's tourism recovery after COVID-19
Related news: Increase tourism visits to Japan through digital technology: JTB Corp

Editor: Rahmad Nasution
Copyright © ANTARA 2023