Party in Izu - part 2

Banjo Waterfall - You can still trace the old path to see the warterfall from the reverse side.
Oomi River down the Banjo Waterfall

Wasabi fields just beside the waterfall - Black meshes are used to block the sunshine when it is too strong.

Oomi River flowing by Oomiya shop - The shop is on the right and the wasabi fields for tourists are on the left
We had again extremely beautiful weather on Sunday, so that I was busy from early morning with washing. After all my guests had got up I also put all bedcloths they had used out to dry in the sunshine, including mats, quilts and blankets. This is absolutely necessary in humid Japan to make sleeping comfortable.

This large metallic beetle is the toilette in the parking place of Banjo Waterfall.
The Sunday's weather was ideal for this purpose, because it was not only fine but also dry.

An indicator for the high humidity in the Amagi Mountains where my summer house stands is the yearly precipitation in the area, which well exceeds 3,000mm. Compared to the Japan's average of 1,700mm and the world average of 1,000mm, the figure for Amagi is approximately two and three times respectively. Therefore, there are numerous rivers and waterfalls in Izu abundant in water.

During a short excursion in the morning we visited one of those waterfalls, "Banjo-no-taki" (Banjo Waterfall), in the Sunday morning. Banjo Waterfall is only about three km distant from my cottage in a straight line. However, due to mountainous landscape, there is no direct way and we have to drive a much longer way to the waterfall. Anyhow after a half hour's drive through forests, shiitake fields, paddy fields and small villages we came to the Waterfall.

Snap shot in front of the waterfall

Banjo Waterfall has a height of 20 meters and a width of 6 meters. Despite its modest size the waterfall has a constant huge volume throughout the four seasons and looks very powerful. It was possible to see the waterfall from the reverse side untill several years ago.

Wasabi Icecream
However, visitors are now not allowed to walk the narrow path leading to the reverse side of the waterfall, appearently because of safety consideration. Anyhow, even in the present watching spots visitors get easily wet by the splash.

After taking a walk along Oomi River, we went back to the parking place and tried soft ice cream with ground wasabi. Wasabi is a Japanese horseradish. However, compared to the European horseradish the taste of wasabi is milder and it can add spicy twist to sweet vanilla ice cream.

Adding wasabi to the soft cream. This grinder is not made of sharkskin.

Using the plenty fresh water wasabi cultivation prospers in Izu. Shizuoka prefecture, to which Izu belongs, is one of the two main wasabi producing prefectures in Japan. Therefore, on the way back from the waterfall, we visited the main shop of a famous wasabi producer "Oomiya" - Appearently this name cames from the name of the river which, coming from Banjo Waterfall, flows by the shop.

Oomiya shop
We bought there three pieces of fresh wasabi and in addition a special grater for wasabi using sharkskin, because we wanted to enjoy the genuine taste of fresh wasabi for the fish we had bought on the previous day in Ito. If ground by the sharkskin grater, wasabi becomes finer and milder compared to metal or ceramic graters. Sharkskin wasabi graters are the specialties of Izu province, because in its coastal sea special spices(*) of shark, the ideal material can be caught.
"Japanese angel shark" is the most popular shark spices used for this purpose.
Oomiya also has wasabi fields open for tourists on the other bank of the Oomi River. There is a log house where the history of wasabi cultivation in the region is explained and from time to time an experience course of making pickled wasabi is held. There are also stone gardens and attractive flower gardens beside the green wasabi fields.

Sashimi and wasabi - A piece of wasabi is laid on the sharkskin grinder. Some of the assorted leaves come from my garden.
I fould this dragonfly with beautiful red wings in a wasabi field. It is "Mnais costalis" and indigenous to Japan.

After coming back home we prepared lunch. Isaki and Sawara were really tasty when eaten with freshly ground wasabi. While we were eager to eat sashimi, we had also a task to eat up all dishes we had made by this time. As a result many of us came to put on some weight. One female member told me later, when she checked her weight after coming back home, it was the highest record in her life.

Take a photo first and start eating!
A wasabi field in the Oomiya's garden for tourists.