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Japanese wasabi farmers fear for future amid climate change

15 Comments
By Irene Wang

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15 Comments
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Difficult to grow. I grew some but my neighbour did some excluvation work and they all died. Need clean water to grow. Good luck.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

there were typhoons in this country before as well and sure that 70yo farmer knows that....

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

As the article says, wasabi is a very demanding plant to grow. The real thing is (now) so expensive that most of what you'll encounter is actually horseradish with green food colouring. That's what the stuff sold in tubes is. 100 yen and supermarket sushi won't have real wasabi in it. Typhoon Hagibis is well-known in Nagano for the flooding, including that rail yard with all the Shinkansens in it, but I didn't know it had hit wasabi growers.

There is a dryland variety called "sawa wasabi" that can be grown in (heavily shaded) fields, but I don't know how different the taste is.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

there were typhoons in this country before as well and sure that 70yo farmer knows that....

Yes. That’s how he is able to say from experience that in recent years typhoons are earlier, more frequent and more destructive, as I’m sure you know.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

@Eastman

Pretty sure a 70 year old farmer is more in touch with what affects his crop than you are.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

It grows well in the UK. https://www.thewasabicompany.co.uk/our-story

I have a couple of pots of it growing in my lounge ('Oka wasabi' when grown in soil). It's just a question of keeping it happy. Plants want to grow, and will if you can supply what they need. Some of our agriculture is going to have to move under cover due to climate change. Hydroponics allows considerable control of nutrients and might be good for a plant that likes moving water.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"Recently the power of typhoons feels totally different from before due to global warming. It's getting stronger," said the 70-year-old farmer in Okutama, west of downtown Tokyo. "Since it's happened once, there's no guarantee it won't happen again."

Hopefully the power of the delicious condiment wasabi farmers will be enough to overturn the LDP oligarchy that will do nothing to address climate change unless it is meaningless virtue signaling campaigns.

Oil subsidies trump farmers in the LDP crony capitalist equation.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I have a mountain abutting my backyard with several streams, so I just got the idea to buy some wasabi seedlings and stick them in in a few places up there to see how it goes. Then I saw that the plants seedlings are $17 each. I guess I'll be sticking with the real wasabi they sell at the Japanese supermarket out Boston way.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A lack of wasabi could also endanger traditional Japanese foods such as sushi and sashimi, where the tang of the wasabi is used as a contrast with raw fish.

Wasabi has been successfully grown in Tasmania and is a very high quality. Japanese farmers could buy into wasabi growing businesses there and ship to Japan within 12-14 hours of harvesting.

https://shimawasabi.com.au/

https://tasmaniangourmetonline.com.au/collections/tasmanian-wasabi

It may not be grown in Japan, but it is from Japanese base stock now acclimated to the cold Tasmanian conditions using the purest water.

There are always options, you just need to look for them and be open to trying them. Japan will not run out of wasabi altogether, the Aussie's have your back! To help supply Japan's needs would require increasing the farming and that can be done with the help of experienced Japanese wasabi farmers joining or setting up businesses there. Tasmania is a large Island and would be a great place for a Japanese farming outpost to add to the wasabi supplies of Japan to maintain supply and security of this essential food item.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Changing climate only means that the farming locations need to be changed. That might be a critical issue for this particular farmer, but not for an industry as long as there are enough wasabi lovers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love this article. JT, please keep articles like this coming, with even more details. It reminds me of my stopping by mountain streams in Shizuoka years ago to see wasabi grown. I can get international news and general interest stories not about Japan elsewhere, and articles about Japanese news and events are why I read JT daily. Never knew of Tasmanian wasabi.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Millions are in danger of starving to death because of climate change, apparently not enough to make the population in Japan react strongly.

But wasabi is in danger? apparently that is important.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"Just change locations! You can relocate everything to Tasmania! Who cares if you are 70 years old and may not have the capital/English skills to make it happen !”

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Farmers all over the world, have daily struggle with mother nature. It is about time the rest of the world pulls their heads out, and help lessen climate change. Plant trees, grow gardens, walk or bike. Help each other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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