Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Traditional Wasabi Cultivation in Shizuoka, Japan

GIAHS since 2018
©Shizuoka WASABI Association for Important Agricultural Heritage Systems Promotion

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.


A spicy agricultural heritage: there’s more to wasabi than meets the eye

With its distinctive green colour and sharp, spicy flavour, wasabi (Eutrema japonicum) has been highly prized in Japan for centuries. There is evidence from written works that Buddhist monks ate “cold wasabi soup” from as early as the 12th century. By the 14th century, they began to eat sashimi topped with wasabi vinegar, and from then on, wasabi started to appear in the meals of the public. Now, it is eaten all over the world.

New agricultural heritage sites; farming in harmony with nature

A 1,200-year-old farming and fishing site known as the "Horta" (garden) of Valencia has been recognized on the register of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


Traditional wasabi cultivation in Shizuoka

Due to Shizuoka's historical significance as the origin of all modern-day wasabi cultivation, as well as the environmentally-friendly impact its cultivation methods have had on enriching the region’s biodiversity, the traditional methods of wasabi cultivation in Shizuoka were officially recognized as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) in March of 2018.