Sweets Comparison : Mizu Youkan vs Neri Youkan

When it comes to summer desserts, in addition to Kuzukiri noodles and Mizu Manju, “Youkan (羊羹)” is commonly eaten in Japan. 

Youkan is a traditional Japanese confection made by jellying sweetened red bean paste “An (餡)” with Japanese agar “Kanten (寒天)”.

Youkan comes in many types and flavors, but especially, chilled “Mizu Youkan (水ようかん)” is perfect for the summer season.

Mizu Youkan is one of the 4 major types of Youkan, while the most common type is “Neri Youkan (煉羊羹)”. 

The Difference between Mizu Youkan and Neri Youkan

Actually today, I purchased both Mizu Youkan and Neri Youkan at a 7 Eleven convenience store for this blog article. 

Mizu Youkan and Neri Youkan

Since Mizu Youkan and Neri Youkan are representatives of traditional Japanese confections “Wagashi (和菓子)“, if you have never heard of them before, please check out the difference that I actually compared.


First of all, Mizu Youkan and Neri Youkan are markedly different in texture. The former is watery and jiggly just like jelly as the Japanese word “Mizu (水)” means water, while the latter is firm and pasty.

This is because Neri Youkan contains a higher proportion of Kanten agar than Mizu Youkan.

Mizu Youkan

Therefore, Mizu Youkan can be easily scooped up with a spoon, but it is difficult to take it up with a cocktail stick.

In contrast, since Neri Youkan is thick and firm as compared to Mizu Youkan, it is very easy to take up the jelly cake with a cocktail stick.

Ingredient and Best-before Date

Mizu Youkan ingredients

As for the ingredient, this Mizu Youkan is made from smooth red bean paste “Koshian (こしあん)“, sugar, Kanten agar, and salt.

Neri Youkan ingredients

On the other hand, this Neri Youkan is made with sugar, Azuki red bean paste, and Kanten agar.

Actually, Mizu Youkan and Neri Youkan can be made basically with the same ingredients, sugar, Azuki red bean paste, and Kanten agar.

However generally, Neri Youkan has a much longer best-before date than Mizu Youkan. Hence, Neri Youkan is suitable as an emergency food.


Both Mizu Youkan and Neri Youkan have a gentle sweetness that comes from a right amount of sugar, but Mizu Youkan is much fresher.

Instead, Neri Youkan is richer in flavor of Azuki red beans.

Where to Buy 

As I wrote above, Mizu Youkan and Neri Youkan are traditional confections very familiar to us Japanese. Therefore, they are both available at most supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan.


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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