Kome vs. Meshi vs. Gohan vs. Don: Meaning in Japanese

In the Japanese language, there are several words for rice, which include what I compare here, Kome (米), Gohan (ご飯), and Meshi (飯).

Kome vs. Meshi vs. Gohan vs. Don (Donburi)

Kome or Okome

The literal meaning of Kome (米) is rice, and we Japanese usually use the word to refer to uncooked/raw rice.

In contrast, Gohan (ご飯) and Meshi (飯) are the words for cooked rice, and we often use them to refer to a meal in general (which may not involve cooked rice).

Meshi (飯) or Gohan (ご飯)

Gohan or Meshi

Further going, Gohan (ご飯) is the polite word for Meshi (飯), as the Go (ご) part of Gohan is a prefix to make a polite expression in Japanese. Thus, they refer to the same thing as mentioned above.

Incidentally, when using the Kanji character 飯 singly, we always pronounce it as Meshi and don’t read it as Han, which makes no sense. 

Some Japanese dish names include the word 飯 as a suffix, like Cha-Han (炒飯), Mazekomi-Gohan (混ぜ込みご飯), and Cha-Meshi (茶飯), in which cases, the suffix 飯 indicates that the dish mainly consists of cooked rice.

Asa-Gohan (朝ご飯) or Asa-Meshi (朝飯), Hiru-Gohan (昼ご飯) or Hiru-Meshi (昼飯), and Yu-Gohan (夕ご飯) or Yu-Meshi (夕飯) are not specific dish names.

But they respectively refer to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as Asa (朝) means morning in Japanese, Hiru (昼) is noon, and Yu (夕) has the meaning of evening.

Don (丼)

Una-Don or Unagi Donburi

As you may already know, we Japanese also use the word Don (丼) as a suffix in dish names, like Yakiniku-Don (焼肉丼), Kaisen-Don (海鮮丼), and Una-Don (うな丼).

In these cases, the suffix Don (丼) indicates that the dish is a rice bowl dish, as the word Don is the abbreviation of Donburi (丼), which can mean a rice bowl dish.


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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