Wagashi: 4 Types of “Youkan” Sweets

“Youkan (羊羹)”, also written as Yokan, is a traditional Japanese confection with several hundred years of history.

It is a Wagashi sweet made from “Anko (餡子)” red bean paste that has been cooked in water and solidified with “Kanten (寒天)” or agar.

4 Common Types of Youkan

The traditional Japanese sweet, Youkan is classified into 4 types. Today, for people who know little about the Wagashi confection, I will give an overview of each of the 4 types.

Neri Youkan (煉羊羹)

Neri Youkan (Yokan)

First off, Neri Youkan is the most common variety of Youkan. It is made using quite a little Kanten agar so it’s a pasty red bean cake.

Neri Youkan contains lots of sugar and has a long shelf life, so it is sometimes sold as an emergency food in Japan.

Mizu Youkan (水羊羹)

Mizu Youkan (Yokan) 

As in its name “Mizu (水)” means water in Japanese, Mizu Youkan is literally more watery than Neri Youkan. This is because this type contains a lower proportion of Kanten agar than Neri Yokan.

The difference in texture between Neri Youkan and Mizu Youkan is similar to the relation between firm tofu and soft tofu.

We Japanese tend to often eat Mizu Youkan during hot summer months since the jelly dessert has a cool appearance and refreshing taste.

Mushi Youkan (蒸し羊羹)

Kuri Mushi Youkan (Yokan) 

Mushi Youkan is a Youkan without using Kanten agar. This type is made from Azuki red bean paste that has been mixed with wheat or kudzu (arrowroot) flour and steamed.

Mushi Youkan often contains sweet boiled chestnuts and the variety is called “Kuri Mushi Youkan (栗蒸し羊羹)”.

Decchi Youkan (丁稚羊羹)

Decchi Youkan (Yokan)Image: cookpad.com

Eaten around the Kinki region of western Japan, Decchi Youkan is the frugal version of Youkan. This type is made with fewer Azuki red beans and less sugar than other types of Youkan.

Various variations of Decchi Youkan can be seen, which include the Neri Youkan version, the Mizu Youkan version, and the Mushi Youkan version.

(Reference Page: Wikipedia 羊羹 )


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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