February Maker’s Story: Shizuoka-grown Wasabi by Kameya Foods

February Maker’s Story: Shizuoka-grown Wasabi by Kameya Foods

Are you familiar with wasabi (わさび)? Made from the Wasabia japonica plant, wasabi or the Japanese horseradish is a unique spice native to Japan and is a staple in Japanese cuisine. The majority of wasabi production comes from Shizuoka Prefecture, so as part of JAPAN RAIL CLUB’s February “With Love, Izu” Omiyage Snack Box, we simply had to include a wasabi snack! 

Kameya Foods Corporation (カメヤ食品) is an authentic Japanese wasabi company, and we’re thrilled to share that their Izu Wasabi Pistachio is one of the delicious snacks featured in our Izu-themed snack box this month. We caught up with Kameya Foods’s Sales Representative, Mr. Ichikawa (市川), to find out more about the region and its wasabi.

 


Video by Kameya Foods

 

Thank you for your time, Ichikawa-san! Please share with us an overview about Kameya. 

Kameya Foods’s history can be traced back to 1947, where the company was founded by a husband-and-wife team in the town of Shimizu in Shizuoka Prefecture. Initially specialising in pickled foods, Kameya was born from the blessings of springwater and ingredients nurtured from the surrounding region, ranging from vegetables to seafood, and of course, wasabi.

Since then, we have combined our cultivated technology and advanced equipment and facilities to develop numerous new products using wasabi as the main ingredient. As a food production company, all of our employees thoroughly share the understanding that “Food is the source of life”. 

 

Freshly grated wasabiPhoto by Kameya Foods

 

What a rich history and background! Which wasabi product is your company’s best-seller?

Kameya’s best-selling wasabi product is the Kameya Grated Honwasabi (カメヤ おろし本わさび). The main ingredient, wasabi, is exclusively produced in Shizuoka Prefecture, typically in the Izu area, and our product is characterised by its flavour, spiciness (piquancy), and texture that is as close to freshly grated wasabi as possible.

Kameya's factory is conveniently located within an hour's drive from Amagi, Izu, Japan's top producer of wasabi. The key to producing good wasabi is the speed from when it is harvested to when it is processed.

 

Kameya Foods staff in a wasabi farm
Photo by Kameya Foods

Moreover, the water used in the primary processing stage is sourced from the same subsoil water of Mount Fuji as the Kakitagawa Springs, which has been selected as one of Japan’s Top 100 Waters. This water, which has a constant temperature throughout the year, brings out the flavour of the ingredients.

 

Izu Wasabi Pistachio
Photo by JAPAN RAIL CLUB

 

That indeed does sound fresh! What about the Izu Wasabi Pistachio, which is included in this month’s Omiyage Snack Box? 

Izu Wasabi Pistachio is made with whole pistachios, and it is a sophisticated snack that blends wasabi from Shizuoka Prefecture into a crispy batter. For those who enjoy the stimulating spiciness of wasabi, this snack is great eaten on its own or as an accompaniment to alcoholic beverages (otsumami).

For this snack, we utilise the leaves of the wasabi plant. During the selection process, foreign substances such as insects are carefully removed by hand and human eyes, and as such each leaf is meticulously dried and powdered.

 

Wasabi plantPhoto by Kameya Foods

 

Wow, sounds like a lot of hard work goes into making delicious snacks at Kameya — we hope our customers will enjoy the Izu Wasabi Pistachio snack as much as we do! As a wasabi company, is there anything that people should learn about your company’s efforts?

Every part of the wasabi plant—including the rhizome, stem, root, and leaves—is utilised, leaving no waste. Even the by-products generated during the primary processing, such as trimmings, are dried and powdered for use.

 

Wasabi leavesWasabi leaves | Photo by Kameya Foods

Wasabi cultivation is challenging—it takes around 1.5 to 2 years from cultivation to harvest. The company contributes to the local community by promoting sixth industrialisation, from raw materials to production and sales, in collaboration with producers in the Izu area and by growing wasabi at the Kameya Farm.

 

Kameya's Wasabi farm
Kameya Wasabi Farm | Photo by Kameya Foods

 

Is there anything unique about where your wasabi products are produced that you would like our readers to know? 

As a major producer of wasabi, the Izu region was recognised as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) for the "Traditional WASABI Cultivation in Shizuoka Water Wasabi" in March 2018. As the Izu region has not been heavily developed for tourism, it remains tranquil with the soothing sound of water. If you have the opportunity, please do visit.

 

Wasabi fields of Ikadaba and Joren Falls of IzuWasabi fields of Ikadaba & Joren Falls | Photo by photoAC (left) & Izu City

 

That’s very interesting! What are some attractions that only the locals of Izu would know about?

Located in the heart of the Izu Peninsula, Ikadaba (筏場) was used as the setting for a Japanese drama film “Chronicle of My Mother” 「わが母の記」. Another local secret is Joren Falls (浄蓮の滝), which is a powerful 25m waterfall, which is the setting for Sayuri Ishikawa's ballad “Amagi-goe” 「天城越え」.

 

Kameya Honten, physical shop to buy souvenirs from the regionPhoto by Kameya Foods

 

Do you have a physical shop in Japan, and do you sell any of your products overseas?

Our products can be found all across Japan, but all 7 of our shops are located in Shizuoka Prefecture. Our main shop (カメヤ本店) is located in Shimizu-cho, and you can find a wider variety of food products perfect for gifts there including wasabi pickles, pickled plums, and miso. The main shop is also housed in the original building from the time of its founding!

Kameya exports grated honwasabi, wasabi furikake (sprinkle toppings), as well as wasabi dressing. Our Grated Honwasabi is particularly popular in China and the USA, while wasabi furikake is popular in Europe.

 

Kameya farmers and staff in front of a wasabi fieldPhoto by Kameya Foods

 

Lastly, do you have a message for our readers?

「わさびの魅力を是非伊豆で味わってください。生わさびは、辛さ以外に甘さや風味、そして香りを堪能いただけます。」

Come and taste the fascinating world of wasabi in Izu. Fresh wasabi is not only spicy, but also sweet, savoury, and fragrant. We are waiting for you in Izu!

 

The Izu Peninsula is easily accessible from Tokyo! To get to Izu, you can take JR East’s sightseeing train SAPHIR ODORIKO or the Limited Express Odoriko (around 2-3 hours). 

JAPAN RAIL CLUB is featuring the area of Izu this February! Subscribe to JAPAN RAIL CLUB’s Snack Box Subscription Plan to try Kameya Foods’ Izu Wasabi Pistachio in “With Love, Izu” Omiyage Snack Box, exclusively available in February 2024. Order yours now!

Meet the author

Sue Lynn

Currently based in Tokyo, Sue Lynn first came to Japan as a university exchange student. With 6 years of experience in Japan's inbound tourism, she is familiar with Japan, particularly on rail passes and East Japan spots, and has a passion for travelling.

Sue is also passionate about Japan's thrifting culture, and is keen to uncover more hidden gems while visiting all 47 prefectures during her stay in Japan.

Sue's 5Cs are cats, cameras, cinema, climbing, and city pop. Ask her about how her favourite JR Pass (JR TOKYO Wide Pass) saved her life (and wallet).

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Sue Lynn Maker's Story

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖

當提到日本的綠茶,大家都知道日本京都是茶文化的中心。 綠茶一開始是在西元9世紀,由幾個佛教僧侶從中國引進到日本的。在日本人的生活中,綠茶已經成為一種有著許多用途而且對人體健康的飲品。 作為日本文化的一部分,抹茶、煎茶和玉露等的綠茶品種也提供了多樣的口味選擇和體驗。例如傳統的日本茶道,不僅喝茶能帶來健康,茶道更成為了日本獨一無二的文化。

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikonocha Honpo
Sue Lynn

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea culture. Originally introduced by returning Buddhist monks from their travels in China in the 9th...

Sue Lynn Food

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea...

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji, Kyoto by Kyoeiseicha
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with the special “So Much Matcha” Omiyage Snack Box. May marks the start of the traditional...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with...

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點
Sue Lynn

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Carissa Loh Culture

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Explore During Japan's Shinryoku Season
Sue Lynn

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for nature―Midori-no-Hi (みどりの日 Greenery Day). Observed annually on 4 May, this national holiday is a testament...

Carissa Loh Culture

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for...

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
Sue Lynn

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top producer of agricultural products and seafood: the vast lands covering Japan’s second largest island and...

Wendy Ng

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top...

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of Japan
Sue Lynn

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes but even amongst these, there are three locations that rise above the others and are...

Dawn Sim Nature

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes...

Japan celebrates Golden Week between April 29 to May 5
Sue Lynn

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of Japan's most prominent and bustling holiday periods, usually spans from late April to early May...

Dawn Sim Culture

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of...

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉
Sue Lynn

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Carissa Loh Nature

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Than Sakura
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with spring than the beloved cherry blossom (桜 sakura). However, other than these pretty, pink blossoms,...

Carissa Loh Nature

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with...

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in April and May
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of a new beginning in many Japanese literature. | Photo by Dawn Sim   A symbol...

Dawn Sim Spring

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other than the mesmerising cherry blossoms painting the landscape, spring is the best season to experience...

Wendy Ng Food

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festivals in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing with it beautiful flowers, comfortable temperatures, and a time of celebration. While most travellers head...

Carissa Loh Festival

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing...

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan
Sue Lynn

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich history and enduring cultural heritage, is particularly famous for its magnificent Japanese castles (お城 oshiro)....

Carissa Loh Culture

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich...

Sakura Karinto and Marui Suzuki
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions of celebrating this season is to enjoy “ohanami” (お花見)! Ohanami means “flower-viewing”, and this is...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions...

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the start of springtime in Japan. Spring is the prettiest and most enjoyable season with radiant...

Wendy Ng Spring

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the...

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of Shochu Distilleries in Miyazaki
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese drink more shochu than sake. Considered to be Japan's national spirit, Shochu is gaining great...

Wendy Ng

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese...

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultural Icons
Sue Lynn

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition, Tohoku (東北), the northeastern part of Japan comprising of six prefectures – Aomori (青森), Akita...

Dawn Sim Culture

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition,...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you can unearth more culinary treasures spread throughout the country if you venture into the less...

Wendy Ng Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you...

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots in Tokyo for Ohanami
Sue Lynn

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you have witnessed the enchanting sight of cherry blossoms (桜 sakura) in full bloom. A cherry...

Carissa Loh Culture

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from Tohoku
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six prefectures, and is a treasure trove of beautiful nature and fascinating history. It’s a wonderful...

Carissa Loh Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six...

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souvenir & Gift-Giving Culture
Sue Lynn

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably seen the colourful and beautifully packaged boxes of local confectionery filling the gift shops along...

Carissa Loh Culture

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably...