Mochi vs Dango vs Daifuku vs Manju : What is the difference?

When you think of traditional Japanese sweets, what comes to mind? In modern times, it is relatively easy to obtain Japanese confections thanks to online shopping sites even if you don’t live in Japan. Besides, Japanese manga and anime may be helpful to know the sweet treats we Japanese commonly have in daily life. Therefore, you may have heard of “Mochi (餅)”, “Dango (団子)”, “Daifuku (大福)”, and “Manju (饅頭)”.

What is the difference between Mochi, Dango, Daifuku, and Manju?

Those are the name of Japanese foods relating to sweet things. Then, what kinds of foods are Mochi, Dango, Daifuku, and Manju? and what is the difference between them?

Mochi (餅)

Mochi is plain glutinous white rice cake. It is traditionally made by steaming glutinous rice “Mochi-Gome (餅米)”, then pounding the steamed rice with a set of large mortar “Usu (臼)” and large pestle “Kine (杵)”. Hence, Mochi contains no seasoning, only consists of glutinous rice. It features being very sticky and is often served with sweet foods. Even among those, “Oshiruko (お汁粉)” is the quintessential sweet Mochi dish that is eaten during the winter season in Japan.

Dango (団子)

Unlike Mochi, Dango is the dumpling made from cereal powder. The making method is to add water to cereal powder, form the mixture into small balls, then boil or steam the cereal balls. Hence, Dango itself is basically plain in taste, but it is often skewered and served along with sweet stuff. Even among those, “Mitarashi Dango (みたらし団子)” is most commonly eaten in Japan. Mitarashi Dango usually consists of three to five lightly grilled cereal dumplings on a wooden stick, which are covered with a sweet soy sauce glaze.

Daifuku (大福)

Traditionally, Daifuku is the small, round rice cake with a sweet red bean paste filling, “Anko (餡子)“. It consists of sweet red bean paste covered in thin, soft Mochi rice cake, which is often dredged with corn starch. Hence, unlike Mochi, the outer part of Daifuku isn’t so sticky. In modern times, Daifuku is available in various types. Even among those, “Ichigo Daifuku (苺大福)” is the most popular, which contains a strawberry, together with sweet bean paste, in the center part.

Manju (饅頭)

Manju is the Japanese steamed bun consisting of flour dough filled with Anko sweet red bean paste. Actually, there are many varieties in Manju. Even among those, “Cha-Manju (茶饅頭)” is the most common type, which consists of brown dough and its inside Anko paste. Since the dough of Cha-Manju is made with wheat flour, brown sugar, and baking soda, it is soft and fluffy.

Related Products
Daifuku Mochi Rice Cake with Sweetened Red Beans Manju Steamed Cake with 5 Flavors (Matcha, Chestnut, Milk, Sweet Red Beans & White Kidney Beans, Soba)

(Reference pages of this article : Wikipedia 団子, 大福, 饅頭 )


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: