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

When you think of traditional Japanese sweets, what comes to mind?

In recent years, 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)” before.

The Difference between Mochi, Dango, Daifuku, and Manju

Actually, these 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)”, and then pounding the steamed rice with a set of large mortar “Usu (臼)” and large pestle “Kine (杵)”.

Since Mochi contains no seasoning and only consists of glutinous rice, the rice cake itself isn’t a confection, and unlike Dango, Daifuku, and Manju, it is usually baked or steamed before used.

The cooked Mochi features being very sticky and is used in various dishes, both sweets and non-sweets, like these.

Speaking of sweet Mochi dishes, “Oshiruko (お汁粉)” is a classic often eaten during the winter season in Japan.

Dango (団子)

Mitarashi Dango

Dango usually refers to the sweet treats consisting of the dumplings made from cereal powder, but the dumpling made with meat or other foods can also be called Dango.

As for the Dango confection, the dumpling is typically made adding hot water to non-glutinous “Uruchi (うるち)” rice powder, forming the dough into small balls, and steaming them. Hence, unlike Mochi rice cake, it is not so sticky.

The cereal dumpling is often sweetened with sugar, skewered on a wooden stick, and sometimes served with sweet stuff.

The Dango confection comes in many varieties, but 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, unseasoned rice dumplings on a wooden stick, which are covered with a sweet soy sauce glaze.

Daifuku (大福)

Ichigo Daifuku

Daifuku, also called “Daifuku Mochi (大福餅)”, is a small, round glutinous rice cake with a sweet Azuki red bean paste filling “Anko (餡子)“.

The traditional Japanese sweet consists of thin, soft, smooth Mochi rice cake filled with Anko paste, which is often dredged with corn starch. Hence, unlike Mochi, the outer surface of Daifuku isn’t so sticky.

In modern times, Daifuku is available in many varieties, but among those, “Ichigo Daifuku (苺大福)” is the most popular type, which contains a strawberry, together with sweet bean paste, in the center part.

Manju (饅頭)


Unlike Mochi, Dango, and Daifuku, Manju isn’t made from rice. Manju is the traditional Japanese steamed bun made from wheat four, and filled with Anko sweetened red bean paste.

As with the Dango and Daifuku confections, today Manju is available in many variations, but among those “Cha-Manju (茶饅頭)” is the most common type.

Cha-Manju consists of a brown bun filled with Anko paste. The dough is made with wheat flour, brown sugar, and baking soda, and the brown bun is characterized by its soft and fluffy texture.

(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 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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