Karashi vs Wasabi: 2 Pungent Condiments that Represent Japan

When it comes to the condiments for traditional Japanese buckwheat noodles “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 Japanese, 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 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 between Karashi and Wasabi

By the way, do you know how Karashi is different from Wasabi? For those who don’t know much about these spicy pungent Japanese condiments, today I will talk about the difference between them.

Raw Material 

Japanese horseradish Wasabi

As mentioned above, Wasabi is a green paste prepared by grinding the ground rhizomes 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 similar in appearance to Western yellow mustard and is referred to as Japanese mustard in English speaking countries.


Both Wasabi and Karashi are spicy, pungent condiments. Wasabi is characterized by its refreshing taste and smell as well as stimulating your nose when eating, while Karashi is similar 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 odor. In addition to being used for Sushi and Sashimi, in Japan, Wasabi is used to flavor various snack foods including these.

Natto with Karashi

On the other hand, we Japanese usually eat Natto fermented soybeans, Tonkatsu pork cutlets, Oden stewed ingredients and so on with Japanese mustard Karashi.

(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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: