Karashi vs Wasabi: Japanese Pungent Condiments

When it comes to the condiment for traditional Japanese buckwheat noodles “Soba (蕎麦)”, or “Nihon Soba (日本そば)”, in addition to “Shichimi Togarashi (七味唐辛子)“, I love to add grated Japanese horseradish “Wasabi (わさび)” to the cup of soba.

Nihon Soba with Wasabi

In terms of the condiment for Nihon Soba, I think Wasabi is a normal choice, but some people, especially those living in Niigata Prefecture, prefer adding “Karashi (からし)” to the soba cup.

Actually, Karashi is an essential condiment for Niigata’s specialty “Hegi Soba (へぎそば)“, and in fact, if you have a chance to go to a famous Hegi Soba restaurant in Niigata “Kojimaya (小嶋屋)”, in place of Wasabi, Karashi will come with their Hegi Soba noodles.

The Difference: Karashi vs Wasabi

But first of all, do you know how Karashi differs from Wasabi? For those who don’t know much about these traditional Japanese condiments, today I will talk about the difference.

Raw Material 

Japanese horseradish Wasabi

As I mentioned above, Wasabi is a green paste prepared by grinding up the ground rhizome of Japanese horseradish, while Karashi usually refers to the yellow mustard made from the crushed seeds of brassica juncea. 

Japanese mustard Karashi

Karashi is very much like Western yellow mustard in appearance and is often referred to as Japanese mustard in English-speaking countries.


Karashi and Wasabi are both spicy, pungent condiments. In addition to stimulating your nose when eating, Wasabi is characterized by its refreshing taste and smell.

Meanwhile, Karashi is similar in taste to Western yellow mustard but usually more intense in pungency and aroma.


Sashimi with Wasabi

Wasabi is famous as a condiment or garnish for Sushi and Sashimi and can remove the fishy smell. In addition to being used for raw fish dishes, in Japan, Wasabi is often used to flavor snack food including these treats.

Natto with Karashi

On the other hand, we Japanese eat Natto (fermented soybeans), Tonkatsu (Japanese-style pork cutlet), and Oden (traditional Japanese stew) usually with the Karashi mustard.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia からし, ワサビ )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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