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I want to carry back some real wasabi from Japan. As y'all know it is hard to find this commodity outside Japan so I felt that taking some back would be a good idea.

What is the best way I can do this? Would there be any limitations which I need to take care of during my flights? I would prefer to put it in my check-in luggage but it is a sensitive root and must be kept damp.

I'll be traveling from Tokyo to Delhi (Air India) and then from Delhi to Frankfurt to Atlanta (Lufthansa).

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To where? Many countries will not allow the import of live plants/shoots/etc –  Doc Jun 19 at 3:11
    
@Doc Oops. I intended to add that information. My bad. –  Aditya Somani Jun 19 at 3:46
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I'd guessed USA from your profile, so this may be of interest (ie permit required). I can't see the airlines objecting though. –  pnuts Jun 19 at 3:49
    
@pnuts Your guess is largely correct. –  Aditya Somani Jun 19 at 3:54
    
Since the cargo holds are likely around the temperature of a refrigerator for most of the journey keeping the root moist may not be a great concern. –  pnuts Jun 19 at 3:59

1 Answer 1

To bring in live plants (or roots for growing) you do need a USDA permit. They are pretty easy to obtain, a bit of online paperwork and a visit to the nearest USDA office to verify your identity. You will need to know the scientific name for wasabi, as your permit is specific to certain plant families or genera that you list while applying.

You will need to make sure your root is completely clean of any dirt or wood debris. Wrap it in some newspaper or paper towels, wet them a bit and drop it in a plastic bag in your suitcase or carry on. Then declare it upon arrival in Atlanta. You will go through the AG Inspection line where they will make sure you aren't carrying any pests or disease on your root(s).

I imagine the wasabi you will be getting will be a commercially hybridized variety for farming, so likely will not fall under the CITES treaty, but wouldn't hurt to research that before you start the whole process.

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I don't wish to get a root for growing. Only for consumption. Although it is probably true that it is possible to use it for growing the plant back again, but since it is a root, it grows the same way a potato or onion or celery might. Growing Wasabi is an extremely complicated process which I don't plan to indulge in. –  Aditya Somani Jun 20 at 2:58
    
Best bet is to call the USDA permit office (1-877-770-5990 or 1-301-851-2046) for clarification. But ultimately the final determination as to whether you are bringing in "food" or a "live plant" while be in the hands of the AG Inspector at Atlanta. –  Tom Jun 20 at 15:16

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