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Make your own authentic Wasabi pickles and Tofu – essentials to Japanese cuisine

What do you look forward to when you travel abroad? I think many people think of food. Even if there is food you can eat in your home country, you still want to get that freshly made, authentic flavor. Many people will mention sushi as Japanese food they are familiar with. Sushi is typically served with wasabi, which has a spicy flavor and distinct aroma, so why not visit one of the places where wasabi is produced? In fact, there are other ways to enjoy wasabi besides eating it with sushi. Come and try making “wasabi pickles” using locally produced wasabi. And besides wasabi, you can try Japanese food that you have never heard of before.
We offer programs that will pique your curiosity. Please come visit Izu City in Shizuoka Prefecture!

Meet your guide

If you are driving your own rental car, please meet your guide at Kitara.
You can get there in about one hour drive from Mishima Station.
There are freshly harvested vegetables and handmade side dishes for sale, and the shop is usually crowded with locals. A Shuzenji SGG guide will be waiting for you at the parking lot.
If you are taking this tour without using a rental car, please meet at Shuzenji Station.
Get off the Shinkansen at JR Mishima Station, transfer to the Izu-Hakone Railway, and ride for about 30 minutes to your destination. Meet your guide at Shuzenji Station and take a taxi together.

Visit wasabi fields

Izu is a major producer of wasabi.
First you will visit Ikadaba, a beautiful wasabi field. Here, farmers continue to produce high-quality genuine wasabi, known as “honwasabi”, in harmony with nature, using cultivation methods that have been certified as a World Agricultural Heritage.
You may have seen wasabi being sold in tubes at supermarkets, etc., but in fact, most of the cheap products for sale are not made with honwasabi, which is native to Japan, but are made with horseradish to mimic the taste.
Later in this program, you will get to try making “wasabi pickles” that use the fine qualities of honwasabi. You’re going to have a lot of fun.

For the cultivation of honwasabi, it is essential to have a large volume of clean water that does not exceed 25˚ C even in summer and soil that drains well. Ikadaba is a wonderful farm that exactly meets these conditions. Here, spring water at a temperature of 13˚ C to 16˚ C flows through the terraced fields year-round, ensuring that the honwasabi is always exposed to clean water. Izu is a land formed by volcanic activity, so the soil is rich in minerals and pumice that allow water to pass through easily.

There are many other things that go into cultivating honwasabi.
Please come and learn all about it!

Try making Wasabi pickles!

Honwasabi offers many benefits to the body, including disinfection, detoxification, improved blood flow, and suppressing development of cancer.
Come to Omiya a wasabi shop run by wasabi farmers by car and make “wasabi pickles” so you can enjoy wasabi even more!

Honwasabi served with sushi is made by grating the stem, which has a strong aroma, but when making wasabi pickles, the leaves, stems, and roots are all finely chopped. Honwasabi is a wonderful ingredient, with no part that you should throw away.

Start by chopping the honwasabi harvested here. Even the parts other than the stem have a nice scent.
What is that white lump in the bag? It is the dregs left over from the process of making sake, called sake lees.
It is interesting to see how ingredients for sake can be transformed into other dishes!
Mix this well with chopped honwasabi and salt and it’s ready to use.

Let this sit for a while, and the scent of wasabi and sake will blend together, and create a texture similar to pungent cream cheese.
Just wait and see what the wasabi pickles that you made yourself will taste like! You can also pack it up and take it away with you.
In Japan, wasabi pickles are generally eaten with white rice or fish cakes, but it also tastes delicious when spread on toast or steak.

There is also a wasabi field on the premises of Omiya. If you go at the right time, you can see wasabi up close before it is harvested.

Try making Tofu!

Next, head back to Kitara, where you will try making and eating tofu using whole Fukuyutaka soybeans harvested in Izu City.
Tofu is a simple yet very healthy food that is commonly eaten in Japanese households. How does each individual soybean change?

In the pot is soy milk made from soybeans that have been soaked overnight in the delicious water provided by Mt. Amagi. Cook this soy milk over low heat and mix until the temperature reaches 80˚C.

When the temperature reaches 80˚ C, quickly add the clear liquid “nigari” (bittern) and stir quickly 3 times in each direction, left and right. The secret to getting a delicious flavor is to do this quickly. Nigari is a liquid produced when making salt from seawater, and here we use all local nigari from Heda on the Izu Peninsula. You’ll be surprised to see the contents of the pot, which had been liquid until a moment ago, had solidified like pudding!

Pour the contents of the pot into a wooden container, put a lid on it, and press forcefully down on the lid with your hands to remove any water. If you are participating in a group, take turns pressing. It will taste better if you remove a lot of water. Can you press it well?

Once the water has been pressed out, the tofu is ready. Try eating some freshly made warm tofu. What is the flavor of this pure white block of nature’s blessings? Come participate for yourself and see how it tastes!
After you try tofu making and tasting, you will return to the place where you met your guide in the morning and the tour will be over.

Shuzenji, a town full of charm

Izu City has many other programs for you to enjoy. Here we will introduce one of them, “Syakyo,” copying sutras at a Buddhist temple. You will head to Shuzenji Temple, located in the center of Shuzenji, a hot spring town in Izu City. Shuzenji is a Zen Buddhist temple that has been popular among locals since it was opened in 807 AD. Here, you will copy the Buddhist sutras, the written teachings of the Buddha, and dedicate them to the temple.
Learn the spirit of Zen and discipline your mind.

Normally, general visitors to the temple stand outside the main hall to pray, but those participating in this program will have special access to the main hall. The principal image of worship, Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana, the Bliss Body of the historical Gautama Buddha), is enshrined in the main hall in a solemn atmosphere, but it is not easily visible from the outside. Gaze upon the gentle face of the statue of the Buddha. Sit right in front of the statue and pray quietly with your hands together while listening to sutras chanted by the chief priest. After you finish praying, try copying the sutras!
Write down the same sutra that was chanted by the chief priest earlier.
Use a pen to trace the letters printed in light ink.

Inside the main hall is so quiet you can hear the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind. Just for the moment, put your smartphone in your bag and concentrate on copying the sutras. It doesn’t matter if you can’t trace them very well. As you write, you will begin to feel your mind growing calmer, like when meditating.
In addition to the sutras, you can also choose one wish to the Buddha to write on the paper. You can choose one from a variety of wishes to make, such as travel safety, physical health, or passing exams. What will you wish for?

Once you have finished writing your sutra, you will get a stamp as proof that you have copied the sutra.
At the end, you can enjoy tea and sweets while looking out at the garden.

How to make reservations

Make a reservation at least 3 weeks before the day you want to go.
Check the tour details on this website!

Information about copying sutras is available on this site.

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