Hikiwari Natto & Kotsubu Natto : What types of Natto beans are they?

As you know, “Natto (納豆)” are fermented soybeans with a peculiar odor and slimy consistency. The Japanese food delicacy is famous as a superfood with various health benefits and said to contribute to having a long life. However, have you ever heard that there are several types of Natto based on the size?

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 a leading Japanese Natto maker “Takano Foods (タカノフーズ)”, Natto is classified into 6 types based on the size as above. When it comes to the popularity, small-sized Natto beans have a much larger share than middle and big ones in Japan. As for Hikiwari Natto, the fermented crushed soybean accounts for about 7 to 8 % of the Natto’s entire market share.

Hikiwari Natto and Kotsubu Natto

Now, let’s actually compare Hikiwari Natto (ひきわり納豆) and Kotsubu Natto (小粒納豆) that 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 a yellow mustard and a soy-sauce-based sauce in the foamed styrene container. Actually, not only them, but most Japanese Natto products also contains the yellow mustard and soy-sauce-based sauce for seasoning Natto beans.

Hikiwari Natto (ひきわり納豆)

Hikiwari Natto and Kotsubu Natto

The left one, Hikiwari Natto has a light color, because it takes less time to ferment the crushed soybeans than the whole small beans for Kotsubu Natto.

Hikiwari Natto

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

Kotsubu Natto (小粒納豆)

Kotsubu Natto

As with other whole bean Natto, such as O-tsubu Natto and Chu-tsubu Natto, Kotsubu Natto has a dark brown color. Generally, the whole bean Natto, Tsubu Natto has a deep flavor and smell relating to the fermentation period compared to Hikiwari Natto, though there is no clear difference in stickiness and sliminess between them.

Related Product : Hoshi Natto (ほし納豆)
Japanese Dried Fermented Soybeans – Hoshi Natto

(Reference page : Wikipedia 納豆 )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures and trivia.

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