The Difference: Wagashi vs Okashi vs Dagashi snacks
There are 3 kinds of Japanese words for snacks, sweets, and candies. They are “Wagashi (和菓子)”, “Okashi (お菓子)”, and “Dagashi (駄菓子)”. You may know one or two of these words, but do you know what the specific difference in meaning between them is?
Meaning: Wagashi vs Okashi vs Dagashi
Actually, the 3 Japanese words Wagashi, Okashi, and Dagashi have meanings slightly different from one another, so this time let me explain how they differ.
First off, “Wagashi (和菓子)” is probably the best-recognized Japanese word for snacks, sweets, and candies in overseas countries. Actually, the term Wagashi is a compound word composed of “Wa (和)” and “Gashi (菓子)”.
The former, “Wa (和)” is an adjective meaning “Japanese”, while the latter, “Gashi (菓子)” is the noun that generally can refer to any kind of snack, sweet and candy, regardless of where they are produced.
However, the compound word Wagashi doesn’t refer to all the snacks that are made in Japan but basically only refers to traditional Japanese confections, which include,
- “Senbei (煎餅)”, “Okaki (おかき)”, “Arare (あられ)”: 3 different types of savory rice crackers
- “Manju (饅頭)“: steamed buns filled with sweet red bean paste called “Anko (餡子)”
- “Daifuku Mochi (大福餅)“: Anko paste wrapped in thin, soft, chewy rice cake
- “Dango (団子)“: sweet rice dumplings
- “Dorayaki (どら焼き)“: Anko sweet red bean paste sandwiched between 2 moist pancakes
Actually, the word “O (お)” in “Okashi (お菓子)” is a Japanese prefix to make a polite expression. Thus, O-Kashi is the polite expression of “Kashi (菓子)”, and these 2 words, Okashi and Kashi have the same meaning.
The Chinese characters used in Japanese writing, “菓子” can be pronounced as “Kashi” or “Gashi”, which, as mentioned above, can refer to any kind of snack, sweet and candy, regardless of where they are made, so this is what Okashi means.
Lastly, “Dagashi (駄菓子)” is the generic name for cheap (unique, relatively small) Japanese snacks, sweets, and candies whose price ranges from 10 yen (about 0.1 USD) to about 100 yen.
So children especially love those treats, for even with small pocket money, they can buy various kinds.
Dagashi actually has several hundred years of history and today comes in numerous varieties, which include,
- “Fugashi (麩菓子)“: dried wheat gluten coated with brown sugar syrup
- “Neri Ame (ねり飴)“: starch syrup candy goo
- “Umaibo (うまい棒)“: unique-flavored corn puff snack bars sold by Yaokin
- “Ramune (ラムネ)“: chalky sugar candy tablets made with dextrose, starch (potato or corn), and citric acid
- “Kabayaki-San Taro (蒲焼さん太郎)”, “Big Katsu (ビッグカツ)”, “Yakiniku-San Taro (焼肉さん太郎)”, “Cut Yocchan (カットよっちゃん)”, “Sudako-San Taro (酢だこさん太郎)”: 5 different types of Surimi fish paste snacks