Visit Japan’s biggest wasabi farm, Daiō Wasabi Farm (大王わさび農場), to taste truly authentic wasabi in Azumino City in Nagano Prefecture! You are probably thinking, well, we have got that spicy green stuff in the Japanese restaurant in my neighborhood. But do you know over 95% of wasabi served in Japanese restaurants doesn’t contain any real wasabi? This is still the case even in Japan, the country that claims to start including wasabi in its cuisine Σ(ﾟДﾟ).
Unlike the fake wasabi you have probably been eating, which is a mix of mustard, European horseradish, and food coloring – the real wasabi isn’t as pungent and spicy. The taste is actually a lot more pleasant – we promise!
The reason for this shocking truth is that wasabi is the most difficult plant in the world to grow commercially. An environment of half-sun exposure, temperature between 10℃ and 18℃, and clean running streams of water beside gravel beds throughout the year aren’t somewhere that can be found just next door.
About Daiō Wasabi Farm
Daiō Wasabi Farm began over 100 years ago, in 1915. Spending 20 years of their life, the pioneers of the time turned the former wasteland full of gravel and weed into the thriving wasabi farm that you see today by utilizing the clean flowing water from the Northern Japanese Alps.
The farm was able to satisfy the pristine conditions with clean water from melted snow from the Northern Alps. The clear stream from the mountain was then divided into smaller streams to ensure water flowed through each wasabi plant the farm is looking after. To avoid the summer heat, from May to October, the fields are covered with black tarp sheets to shield them from the sun.
HERE is the farm’s map. It is all in Japanese, but the important facilities are all drawn on the map.
Tip: You can book a tour HERE to make your visit to Japan’s biggest wasabi farm more informative and interesting!
The Wasabi Statue
Before you wander around the farm, take a photo with this cute wasabi statue close to the entrance!
As you can imagine, it is quite a popular photo spot with the wasabi field in the background. So, if you see it being left alone, don’t be afraid to snap a photo or two with it (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
Bridge of Happiness (幸せのかけ橋)
At Daiō Wasabi Farm, you can expect more than just wasabi plants.
If you pass through this bridge that goes across the main wasabi field (Daiō Hata, 大王畑) with your partner, it is said that you will live happily together thereafter (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ. This is especially true when the wasabi is flowering because the wasabi flower is the flower that carries happiness!
Near this bridge is the Daiō Shine (大王神社). The god of the shrine is said to be looking after the farm’s prosperity. And just next to the shrine is a Tea Room where the Imperial Family rested when they visited the farm in 1976. The Tea Room isn’t open to the public, but it somehow exuded a sacred and peaceful feeling (*´ω｀).
Watermill that Appeared in the Movies
Close to the entrance of the farm, you won’t miss out on this old-fashioned watermill (水車小屋).
We thought it was a nice little extra to the relaxing scenery of the farm when we were there. But then we realized it was actually constructed for filming Kurosawa Akira’s movie – Dreams in 1989!
Boat tours were running in the past from late April to late October. But it seems like the tours aren’t held by the farm anymore…
Pickled Wasabi Experience
Important: The experience is currently suspended. We will update this article if it becomes available in the future.
At the moment, you won’t be able to buy fresh wasabi at the farm’s shop since the amount of wasabi harvested isn’t able to cater to tourists.
But, you can join their Pickled Wasabi Experience (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
It is only going to take you 20 minutes and 1,100 yen each! You can choose time slots from 10 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm.
Please ensure you reserve your spot 2 days before your arrival (don’t be like us, who only realized this after we arrived…).
How to Reserve Your Spot for Experiences in Daiō Wasabi Farm
Currently, you can only reserve through a phone call. There was staff who could speak English when we visited the farm. But if you have trouble making a reservation, kindly ask the staff in your accommodation to make the phone call for you (^_-)-☆.
We highly recommend wasabi ice cream! It is definitely a must-try, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the taste (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
The 40 Years Old Wasabi
Aside from the scenery, there is also a wasabi museum where you will learn a lot about the spicy condiment.
We even found this wasabi harvested 40 years ago (‘ω’)ノ.
Other facilities, including restaurants, can also be found on the farm’s ground.
Daiō Wasabi Farm’s Flower Calendar
- Plum Blossom: from late February to mid-March
- Cherry Blossom: from late March to early May
- Fall Foliage: from late October to mid-November
Dining at Daiō Wasabi Farm
There is no pure vegetarian menu in either of the restaurants in Daiō Wasabi Farm. But what you can do is bring your noodles dipping sauce to enjoy their soba noodles with fresh wasabi!
The farm also has a cafe where you can take a rest and enjoy some desserts and drinks.
A visitor information center is close to the entrance of Daiō Wasabi Farm. You can get information about the farm and attractions nearby in various languages.
In the souvenir shop next to the visitor center, you will find a variety of wasabi products, from biscuits to chocolate and even curry, all wasabi flavored!
The small stall opposite the souvenir shop is where you can get wasabi-flavored ice cream!
The stall also sells croquettes. But it tasted like any other croquette, so we would say give it a pass.
What if I Really Want to Buy Fresh Wasabi?
If you really want to bring some fresh wasabi home, check out the shops around JR Hotaka Station (穂高駅). We were able to get some from one of the grocery stores there.
And when you visit the shops, you can also use the below phrase:
“すみません、わさびがありますか？” pronouncing as “Sumimasen, wasabi ga arimasu ka?”, meaning “Excuse me, are there any wasabi?”.
Tip: if you want the wasabi to be spicier, put a little bit of white sugar on your grinder. Then grind from the side where the stem is. Also, you can grind the whole wasabi in one go and keep it in the freezer. We were told it would last for a year (but we finished in a month (≧▽≦)).
Daiō Wasabi Farm’s Opening Hours
- March – November: 8 am to 5 pm
- December – February: 9 am to 4 pm
We recommend 2 hours at the farm to get the full experience (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
How to Get to Daiō Wasabi Farm
- From JR Hotaka Station, it is a 10-minute drive to the farm.
- You can also utilize the Azumino Sightseeing Bus services (あづみ野周遊バス) from late April to September.
- HERE is the bus service’s timetable
- Note the bus doesn’t operate every day. The days that are marked in yellow are the days that the bus services will be running
- The bus fare is
- 600 yen for adults
- 300 yen for elementary school students
- The cost of the One-Day Bus Pass is
- 1,000 yen for adults
- 500 yen for elementary school students
Tōkōji Temple (東光寺)
If you have time, we recommend you walk back to JR Hotaka Station from the farm. This isn’t just for some exercise, but to visit Tōkōji Temple!
In front of the temple are these two pairs of Geta (traditional Japanese sandals). The gigantic sandals are said to belong to the Buddha being worshipped here.
It is said that making wishes while wearing those sandals will make your wishes come true (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
Rokuzan Art Museum (碌山美術館)
And if you have more time, there is this little art museum that features Japanese sculptor Moriye Ogihara’s sculptures near JR Hotaka Station.
We love the museum’s architecture and were snapping photos from its front gate. The four seasons at this museum are just beautiful!
Explore Other Fascinating Attractions in Matsumoto City
If you plan to visit Daiō Wasabi Farm by making a day trip from Matsumoto, Check out our list of selected attractions in Matsumoto that you won’t want to miss out on!
There are a couple of places where you can source delicious natural water in the city center, an art museum filled with Kusama Yayoi’s eye-opening contemporary artworks, places perfect for cherry blossom and fall foliage hunting, and a lot more!
Combine Your Visit with Other Nearby Popular Destinations and Save on Transportation
If you are visiting Takayama and at least 2 of the following spots, the Mitsuboshi Kaidou Three-Star Route Option Ticket will save you money (more details in our Chūbu Japan’s Discounted Transportation Deals article)! The ticket is valid for 7 consecutive days, allowing you to save time and money on transportation!