The Difference in Meaning of Wagashi, Okashi, and Dagashi

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 Japanese words, but do you know what is the difference in specific meaning between them?

The Difference in Meaning between Wagashi, Okashi, and Dagashi

Actually, the 3 Japanese words have meanings slightly different from one another, so this time I will talk about how “Wagashi (和菓子)”, “Okashi (お菓子)”, and “Dagashi (駄菓子)” are different in meaning from one another.

Wagashi (和菓子)

A Wagashi Confection and a Cup of Matcha Green Tea

Wagashi (和菓子)” is probably the most widely recognized Japanese word for “snacks, sweets and candies” in overseas countries. Actually, the term, Wagashi is composed of 2 Japanese words, “Wa (和)” and “Gashi (菓子)”. The former word, “Wa (和)” has a meaning of the adjective “Japanese”, while the latter, “Gashi (菓子)” generally refers 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, sweets and candies made in Japan, but basically refers to traditional Japanese confections.

Okashi (お菓子)


“O (お)” included in this term “Okashi (お菓子)” is a Japanese prefix to make a polite expression. Thus, Okashi is the polite expression of “Kashi (菓子)”, and these 2 Japanese words, Okashi and Kashi have the same meaning. The Chinese character used in Japanese writing, “菓子” is pronounced as “Kashi” or “Gashi” in Japanese, which, as mentioned above, refers to “any kind of snack, sweet and candy, regardless of where they are made”, so this is what Okashi means.

Dagashi (駄菓子)

Dagashi Snacks and Candies

Dagashi (駄菓子)” is the generic name for cheap and relatively small Japanese snacks, sweets and candies. Especially, children love them because only with small pocket money they can buy various kinds of Dagashi.


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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