Tokyobling's Blog

Japanese Agriculture

Posted in Nature by tokyobling on August 15, 2009

I always love traveling around in the countryside looking at what people are growing in their fields and gardens. Japan is of course famous for the excellent rice and green tea grown here, and I am sure you can recognize the rice paddy in the first of these two photos. Luxurious green! But what about the second, darker, more sinister photo? What do you think they are growing there? Let me know your opinions in the comments section! I know the correct answer but let’s wait and see what you come up with. Anybody knows?

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18 Responses

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  1. Andrew Murphy said, on August 15, 2009 at 2:28 am

    They are growing tasty. Tasty is pretty much the best thing ever!


    • tokyobling said, on August 15, 2009 at 9:02 am

      Tasty? It sure is tasy! Can you be more specific?


  2. Dixie Howard said, on August 15, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Is the second crop a strawberry field? Love your blog – its really interesting!


    • tokyobling said, on August 15, 2009 at 9:03 am

      Thank you Dixie! Love you name. Nope, this is something we only really get in Japan, although it is exported abroad. I have never seen it grown on such a scale though.


  3. pk1154 said, on August 15, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    I’m sure those aren’t strawberries — I grow them myself. Looking at all that water, though, it could possibly be water chestnuts…

    On second thought, I’d suggest it is some sort of green vegetable, along the line of dokudami (Houttuynia) that is grows best in shaded wetland situations, which would explain both the water and the shade cloth.

    And, according to Wikipedia,

    “Houttuynia is also used in herbal medicine. The beverage dokudami cha (Japanese: ドクダミ茶; literally “Houttuynia cordata tea”) is an infusion made from Houttuynia cordata leaves, Oolong tea leaves, and Job’s Tears”

    …which would make it a plant worth some special effort, even though it can spread like a pestilence anywhere it is remotely happy. (I once planted it in the ground as an ornamental plant and regretted it. Took a while to root it out.)


    • tokyobling said, on August 17, 2009 at 12:50 am

      Houttuynia? That was a first one for me! Interesting plant. I haven’t seen it around, but then again, it isn’t very eye catching. I’ll give you a further hint: these plantations usually have a lot more clear clean water.


  4. Blinde Schildpad said, on August 16, 2009 at 7:57 am



    • tokyobling said, on August 17, 2009 at 12:52 am

      Nope, I haven’t seen that in Japan yet. Nice blog by the way, I need to practice my Dutch!


  5. Carolyn J. said, on August 18, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Daikon radishes?


    • tokyobling said, on August 19, 2009 at 12:37 am

      Ms Deodand, not exactly! You’re getting closer, but the Daikon are huge and grown in your average normal looking brown dirt field. Still, best guess so far! I’m sure someone will nail it after reading your comment.


  6. Hippy of Doom said, on August 19, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Wasabi? I heard they need to be grown in water like that. My mother keeps telling me to try and set up a wasabi farm here in the UK.


    • tokyobling said, on August 20, 2009 at 12:15 am

      Correct! Or as they say here in Japan: Ping-pong (to imitate the sound of game show bells when a contestant answers correctly). Well done. It is indeed wasabi, which is a plant famous for needing heat, clean water and not too much sunshine, hence the black nets covering the fields. Wasabi fields are often placed next to rivers with a healthy gradient allowing for a constant and rapid supply of fresh water. I do not know if you could make it grow in the UK though, but hey, with global warming coming right up, a well isolated green house and solar powered water mill, you might do well! For people who love sushi, there is nothing better than real, freshly grated wasabi. Tons better than the tubed stuff you’re likely to get overseas.

      Oh, and I liked your Etsy store by the way!


      • Hippy of Doom said, on August 20, 2009 at 10:14 am

        Oooh yay! Hmm they might do well in the summer as UK summers are getting increasingly hot and damp.

        I am dying to try real wasabi! The pastes and powders exported don’t usually have wasabi – they’re a blend of mustard, horseradish and green food colouring! I think only recently have some been exported with wasabi in it. One day I may have a UK wasabi monopoly going on, mwahahaha.

        Oh and thank you! I suspect you may have noticed from my store I’m a bit of a Japan nut, lol.


        • tokyobling said, on August 21, 2009 at 12:22 am

          Congratulations! Freshly ground wasabi is an amazing treat. Your taste buds will be blown away. I know southern England is damp but wasabi might still be a bit of a stretch. I have seen people planting them indoors though, on good soil, with an organic filtration system on a slight slope and a solar powered water pump it might turn out fine! If you want to experiment you can buy (in Japan at least) mini plantations that consist of a stand with a small water pump at the bottom. The water pump will keep the water trickling over the baby wasabi plant. Place in a window (you’ll need a wall plug of course) and harvest after about a year. Yes, these things are slow growers.


          • Hippy of Doom said, on August 21, 2009 at 4:23 pm

            Och how I want one of those mini-plantations now! I imagine that would be confiscated by customs… hmm.

            How know so much on wasabi growing?! I follow a lot of blogs on Japan, but haven’t come across such indepth knowledge of wasabi cultivation


          • tokyobling said, on August 24, 2009 at 1:08 am

            I upped a notch on my geek level radar right after reading your comment: “And who are you to be so wise in the ways of…” Ah, memories! Wasabi is just the perfect plant in my opinion. It is extremely potent, very difficult to grow, very perishable. It has a sudden impact on your taste buds but leaves very quickly unlike the more “brutish” peppers which can stay around for hours. Apparently it is also very good for waking people up, most people go from being deep asleep to wide awake in a few seconds when subjected to the smell of wasabi.

            I usually buy plants stuff from Sakata, a web shop that has a fantastic selection, the ultimate garden pron! I can spend hours just dreaming about the perfect garden while thumbing through their catalog (I get it 4 times a year). They have a very reasonably priced wasabi home garden set here:


  7. simimbo said, on January 14, 2010 at 2:35 am


    could you tell me whether this is the new link for the wasabi set?


    • tokyobling said, on January 14, 2010 at 3:23 am

      This indeed looks like a wasabi set on postal order (don’t think it is available outside of Japan though), comes in a 9cm pot and seems quite cheap. This is a version that doesn’t require constantly running water. I have ordered stuff from Sakata before and they are excellent.


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