The pungent root that is wasabi is one that divides many people. Haters often demand sushi chefs leave it out of their dishes for a number of reasons such as fear of it getting up their noses, making their eyes water and of course the slightly burning taste! In contrast, those who don’t mind it can often enjoy it in many different forms these days whether it be wasabi-flavoured crisps, Kit-Kats or ice-creams.
As someone who came up with the idea of wasabi on toast a few years back, I am of course no stranger to the spicy green stuff and so when my father-in-law mentioned a family day trip to Kameya Jien Wasabizawa in Izu city, I was keen to go and see what concoctions they had come up with. On the back of our family trip down to the tip of the Izu Peninsula it was another early start in order to beat the Golden Week traffic and we were at Japan’s number one wasabi growing region at about 9am.
Izu city has a longstanding history of cultivating the green root as it possesses the right natural resources (plenty of fresh, clean water and the right balance of sunlight) for creating a quality product.
Proper wasabi is spicy with a mild sweetness and this was THE place to try it whether it be a real sample or some of the flavoured goods such as ice cream, dango (a dumpling and sweet made from rice flour), chocolate and beer! Even though it was only 10am I couldn’t resist the temptation of sampling some wasabi beer. I’m glad I tried it but I can’t say I’m in too much of a rush to do so again!
This area is not just famed for the well-known sushi complement but also for the 25 metre Joren Waterfall (below) and its beautiful turquoise-coloured plunge pool. The name is derived from the former Joren temple which was once to the left of the waterfall.
Amagi Wasabi no Sato service area was next and my wife and mother-in-law took advantage of this stop and sampled the ice cream speciality. No prizes for guessing what flavour! The Former Amagi Tunnel (below) soon followed and reached via some narrow gravelly roads. This tunnel featured in some novel that my father-in-law once read so he was pretty excited about it. For me it brought back memories of my teenage years where my friends and I would cycle to some tunnels along a long abandoned train track.
That was pretty much it for our day but there was to be one extra bonus stop which I asked my father-in-law to drive us all to for some family fun!
Click here to read ‘The Temple Of The Toilet God’