Wagashi Sweets: Neri Yokan, Mizu Yokan, Mushi Yokan

“Yokan (羊羹)” is a traditional Japanese confection or Wagashi with a long history. It is a simple jelly dessert made basically with sweetened Azuki red bean paste, water, and agar called “Kanten (寒天)”.

In the making process, Kanten or agar is used to make the mixture of the sweet red bean paste “Anko (餡子)” and water into jelly.

Generally speaking, when we Japanese just say “Yokan”, that refers to the most common type of Yokan, “Neri Yokan (練り羊羹)”.

Types: Neri Yokan vs Mizu Yokan vs Mushi Yokan

In addition to Neri Yokan, there are actually another 2 common varieties of Yokan sweets in Wagashi, that is, “Mizu Yokan (水羊羹)” and “Mushi Yokan (蒸し羊羹)”.

Today for those who don’t know much about these Japanese jelly desserts, here I will explain how the 3 types of Yokan are different from one another.

Neri Yokan vs Mizu Yokan

Neri YokanNeri Yokan

As I wrote above, the regular Yokan, Neri Yokan is made by jellying the mixture of Anko paste and water with Kanten agar, and this basic method also applies to Mizu Yokan.

Mizu YokanMizu Yokan

However, as the word “Mizu (水)” means water in Japanese, the ratio of water to Kanten in Mizu Yokan is large compared to that of Neri Yokan, which gives Mizu Yokan a jiggly jelly-like texture with a fresh cool appearance that is perfect for summer.

Neri Yokan vs Mushi Yokan

Kuri Mushi YokanKuri Mushi Yokan

Meanwhile, regarding the difference between Neri Yokan and Mushi Yokan, although Neri Yokan is jellied with Kanten agar, Mushi Yokan is made by steaming a mixture of sweet Azuki red bean paste, water, and wheat flour or Kudzu arrowroot powder, without using Kanten, as “Mushi (蒸し)” or “Musu (蒸す)” is the Japanese word for steam.

Mushi Yokan typically contains candied chestnuts in the cake and the chestnut variety is called “Kuri Mushi Yokan (栗蒸し羊羹)”. As you can guess, the word “Kuri (栗)” means chestnut in Japanese.


In summary, here is the list of the primary differences between Neri Yokan, Mizu Yokan, and Mushi Yokan.

Types of Yokan Main Ingredients Jellying Method
Neri Yokan Sweet red bean paste, Water, Kanten With Kanten
Mizu Yokan Sweet red bean paste, Water, Kanten With a little amount of Kanten
Mushi Yokan Sweet red bean paste, Water, Flour By Steaming

(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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