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Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Traditional Wasabi Cultivation in Shizuoka, Japan

Summary

Wasabi, Eutrema japonicum, is a native Japanese plant of the Brassicaceae family that has been highly prized in Japan since ancient times for the sharp flavor produced when its stems are grated. Shizuoka region is the origin of worldwide wasabi cultivation, and is believed to have begun approximately 400 years ago, during the Keicho era (1596-1615) in the Aoi district of Shizuoka City.

Traditional cultivation method results in the production of large stems, little crop damage from disease, and little danger of nutrient depletion from repeated cultivation that is so often seen in agriculture; as such, it is a cultivation system with an extremely high degree of suitability for wasabi production. Furthermore, wasabi fields in steep mountainous areas currently possess a structure that is resilient to natural disasters because these fields have high water-holding capacity, and they also function to protect downstream areas from flooding disasters.