Shiego Iida, 75, has been responsible for the family’s wasabi production business for 53 years. He took over as the 8th generation owner because he saw it as a rare opportunity that could give him a decent living. To him, most of the wasabi eaten globally isn’t real wasabi.
He says they’re mostly horseradish. Real wasabi from authentic wasabi producers has a unique fragrant taste that “hits” the nose first, after which sweetness follows, and finally, there is spiciness. Shiego says these three characteristics are a must for all real wasabi.
According to research, this condiment helps fight cancer and kills germs and bacteria.
To cultivate wasabi, they mainly use a process known as “bunkon-nae.” It involves separating wasabi seedlings from the mother plant upon harvesting. They dig up and loosen the soil before planting the seedlings.
Shiego doesn’t use chemicals or fertilizers because he wants to protect the environment. The “tatami-ishi” is a unique wasabi farming method practiced in Izu. It was developed in the late 19th century by a local farmer.
The concept focuses on using limited land to create small plots of wasabi fields. Large rocks are placed at the bottom, while sand and smaller stones are layers on top. The result is a natural filtration system that ensures the water is always clean. Shiego says he intends to continue working at the farm for 10 to 20 years.