wabi sabi, wasabi

contact prints from wasabi leaf on silk twill fabric

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese term to define the simplest art of finding beauty and grace in the nature of imperfection; and acceptance of the cycle of life and death. It has nothing to do with Wasabi, but I like the ring to it.
A few weeks ago, I made a promise with the owner of our favorite Japanese restaurant to trade a Wasabi plant for a Myoga ginger (Zingiber Mioga) plant that he has growing in his garden. Myoga ginger plant is grown for its young and tender flower buds, and is eaten as a garnish with sushi. Just like Wasabi, it is another ingredient that are quintessential to Japanese cuisine. With some luck, I found a farm up in Oregon that grows and ships Wasabi plants. I bought two from them–one for myself and the other for the Japanese owner. I was so excited when I received the package, and I planted it in a shady spot. I hope it will do well in our garden.
Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) is a herbaceous perennial that is native to Japan’s northern islands, for its cool mountain streams and shaded woodlands. Wasabi belongs to the family Brassicaceae, which includes broccoli and cabbage. It has antibacterial compounds that make it an idea condiment for Japanese cuisine. The tuberous rhizome is grated to make a green aromatic paste that has a distinct and earthy flavor and without a lingering, and burning aftertaste like the artificial Wasabi that makes your nose flare up like fire. The Wasabi that you find in most Japanese establishment and grocery stores are made with a concoction of horseradish, coloring, and other preservatives. The wonderful thing about the Wasabi plant is that all parts of the plant (rhizomes, leaf, stem, and flowers) are edible.

fresh heart-shaped wasabi leaves

With all the characteristics about this plant, I was interested to find out if the plant is a good source for contact printing. I’d tried a few experiments with the heart-shaped leaf by steaming it on watercolor paper; bundled the leaf in a silk fabric and boiled in water with iron solution. I was happy with the results and the photos below, document the process. I am glad to share the results.

fresh out of the pot

mirrored image of the leaf

closer look

peeling off soggy and wet leaf

unbelievable result…I jump with joy

faint outline and print on watercolor paper

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4 Responses to wabi sabi, wasabi

  1. Linda St Angelo says:

    What a lovely print this makes. Fresh wasabi tastes so much different than the stuff sold in grocery stores doesn’t it?


  2. Beautiful, thanks for sharing this!


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