Meaning: Wagashi vs Okashi vs Dagashi

Have you ever heard that there are 3 Japanese words for snacks, sweets, candies, or confectionery?

They are “Wagashi (和菓子)”, “Okashi (お菓子)”, and “Dagashi (駄菓子)”. You may hear of these words, but do you know how they differ?

Wagashi vs. Okashi vs. Dagashi

The Japanese terms, Wagashi, Okashi, and Dagashi, are slightly different in meaning. And this time, let me explain the differences.

Wagashi (和菓子)

Wagashi

First, “Wagashi (和菓子)” is probably the best-known Japanese term for confectionery. It 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 for snacks in general.

However, Wagashi doesn’t refer to all Japanese snacks. It is the generic term for traditional Japanese confections, including

Okashi (お菓子)

Okashi

Next, “O (お)” in “Okashi (お菓子)” is a prefix to make a polite expression. Thus O-Kashi is the polite way to say “Kashi (菓子)” and the two words have the same meaning.

The Chinese characters or Kanji, “菓子” is pronounced as “Kashi” or “Gashi”, which, as mentioned above, is the word for snacks in general.

Dagashi (駄菓子)

Dagashi

Lastly, “Dagashi (駄菓子)” is the generic term for cheap (unique, relatively small) Japanese snacks and candies whose price ranges from 10 yen (about 0.1 USD) to about 100 yen.

For its uniqueness and cheapness, Dagashi treats are favored by children. As with Wagashi, Dagashi has a long history and comes in numerous varieties, including

  • Fugashi (麩菓子)“: Dried wheat gluten stick coated with brown sugar. 
  • Neri Ame (ねり飴)“: Starch syrup goo candy.
  • Umaibo (うまい棒)“: Unique-flavored corn puff sticks sold by Yaokin. 
  • Ramune (ラムネ)“: Chalky sugar candy tablets made with dextrose, potato or corn starch, 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)”: Surimi fish paste snacks.

Tomo

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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