The poor water supply in the Ato district of Shonai, Yamagata Prefecture made the area unsuitable for rice cultivation, which is why wakarashi (Japanese mustard) has been cultivated there for a long time.
With land improvement under way beginning around 1965, farmers began transitioning to rice production, and Japanese mustard died out.
To revive traditional Japanese mustard, people who grew it for their own use were asked to help. After six years, the foundation seeds of karashina mustard were finally obtained. Particular attention is also paid to grinding, and by drying the plants before they are ripe, the beautiful green color and fresh, pungent flavor is kept for the Ato no Hon Wakarashi.
These days, Western-style mustard is mainstream in Japan.
Producers of traditional wakarashi are now very rare, making this a truly precious spice to pass on to the next generation.
Manufacturer: Herb Kenkyusho SPUR in Shonai, Yamagata Prefecture (www7a.biglobe.ne.jp/~spur/)
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