Hikiwari Natto & Kotsubu Natto : Types of Natto Beans

“Natto (納豆)” are fermented soybeans with a peculiar odor and slimy consistency which are famous as a superfood with various health benefits.

It is known that the Japanese food delicacy can contribute to having a long life, however, have you ever heard that based on the size there are several types of Natto?

6 Types of Natto Fermented Soybeans based on the Size

The Size of Soybeans The Name of Natto
Big O-tsubu Natto (大粒納豆)
Middle Chu-tsubu Natto (中粒納豆)
Small Kotsubu Natto (小粒納豆)
Very Small Gokusho Natto (極小納豆)
Super Small Cho-Gokusho Natto (超極小納豆)
Crushed Soybeans Hikiwari Natto (ひきわり納豆)

According to the official website of the leading Japanese Natto producer “Takano Foods (タカノフーズ)”, Natto is classified into 6 types based on the size as shown above.

Regarding the popularity, small-sized Natto beans, such as Kotsubu Natto, are much more popular than middle and big ones in Japan, while the fermented crushed soybean Hikiwari Natto accounts for about 7 to 8 % of the entire market share.

Hikiwari Natto and Kotsubu Natto

As I mentioned “Hikiwari Natto (ひきわり納豆)” and “Kotsubu Natto (小粒納豆)” just now, let’s actually compare the Hikiwari Natto and Kotsubu Natto I have now.

These are from different Japanese makers, but the containers are uniform in size, color, and shape.

Besides, each of the 2 Natto products has sachets of yellow mustard and soy-sauce-based sauce in the polystyrene container.

Actually, not only them, but most Natto available in Japanese grocery stores also come with the yellow mustard and soy-sauce-based sauce for seasoning the fermented soybeans.

Hikiwari Natto (ひきわり納豆)

Hikiwari Natto and Kotsubu Natto

The left one, Hikiwari Natto has a lighter color than Kotsubu Natto. This is because it takes less time to get the crushed soybeans fermented.

Hikiwari Natto

What is more, compared to “Tsubu Natto (粒納豆: whole bean Natto)” including Kotsubu Natto, Hikiwari Natto is easy to digest and rich in Vitamin K that helps absorb calcium efficiently.

Kotsubu Natto (小粒納豆)

Kotsubu Natto

In contrast, as with other whole bean Tsubu Natto, such as O-tsubu Natto and Chu-tsubu Natto, Kotsubu Natto features a dark brown color.

Generally, the whole bean varieties, Tsubu Natto has a deep flavor and strong smell relating to the fermentation period, compared to Hikiwari Natto, though there is no clear difference in stickiness and sliminess between them.

(Reference Page : Wikipedia 納豆 )


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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