Ichigo Ichie: The Wasabi You Eat Probably Isn’t Wasabi

“Ichigo ichie” (一期一会): a Japanese idiom meaning “one time, one meeting”. The phrase embodies the cultural concept of treasuring meetings with people, and is often translated as “one chance in a lifetime”, reminding people to cherish any meeting or experience they are part of, as they may not be repeated. It’s a phrase I love, and one which just about sums up a lot of my encounters both in Japan and with Japanese culture. So many of my experiences have been once in a lifetime opportunities, never to be repeated, only to be looked back fondly upon. I truly appreciate having had those experiences, and I’m sure there will be more to come in the future.

Ichigo ichie

The phrase “ichigo ichie” has been adopted by a new series of videos which has launched on Great Big Story and CNN International in partnership with All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest and only 5-star airline. The series comprises seven videos which look at unique parts of Japanese culture, and the first video I would like to introduce today is: ‘The Wasabi You Eat Probably Isn’t Wasabi’.

This is a fascinating video. We all think we know what wasabi is – that spicy green stuff hiding in sushi that gets right up your nose – but who knew that most of the wasabi you eat isn’t actually wasabi at all? Rather than using expensive, difficult to grow real wasabi, most restaurants simply use horseradish coloured green! It actually takes a year and three months for wasabi plants to grow, and they need just the right conditions to flourish. I don’t think I’ve ever actually had real wasabi so I can’t compare it to the wasabi we find in most Japanese restaurants, but according to the video the taste is not exactly the same. Real wasabi apparently has a complex taste, with a spiciness followed by a sweetness. I wonder if I would be able to tell the difference, given the chance? (Talking of a spiciness followed by a sweetness, wasabi Kit Kats anyone??)

The video features the Daio Wasabi Farm (大王わさび農場) near Matsumoto, which is somewhere I haven’t been myself but I do sometimes recommend to my customers. If I have the time, I would love to go there on a future trip to Japan. It is one of the largest wasabi farms in Japan, and is now a popular tourist destination selling a wide variety of wasabi products, including fresh wasabi, wasabi paste, wasabi flavoured pickles and crackers, wasabi soba noodles, wasabi curry, wasabi sausages, wasabi dressing, wasabi beer, wasabi juice, wasabi ice cream and wasabi chocolate. (Japan Guide)

Daio Wasabi Farm

(Image source)

Japan has such a strong and attractive culture, and these videos produced in partnership with ANA encourage the viewer to explore Japanese culture through the lens of food and hospitality, with the aim of growing the airline’s brand presence in Europe. Mr Nakamura, Senior Vice President of ANA EMEA and General Manager London, commented: “We’re delighted to partner with CNN International Commercial to launch ANA’s first Pan-European campaign. Steeped in history and tradition, Japan offers travellers many discovery opportunities so we hope the films excite audiences across Europe to book a trip and experience excellence at 30,000ft with ANA. As a leading Japanese airline, we are dedicated to providing a personalised, high-quality service that embodies the ‘Ichigo Ichie’ concept, both food and hospitality play a key part in this so the partnership perfectly captures our service philosophy.

Watch this space for more videos from the Ichigo Ichie series coming soon!

One thought on “Ichigo Ichie: The Wasabi You Eat Probably Isn’t Wasabi

  1. 13 km WNW of Matsumoto JR and 1.5 km E of Hotaka Station, so readily accessible – if you have the time, given the host of other charming features to be found in and around Matsumoto. Allow three nights to do it justice – if you are on a ‘serious’ visit to Japan.

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