Wagashi vs Mochi vs Namagashi: What is the Difference?
While the word “Okashi (お菓子)” can refer to any kind of snack, sweet, and candy, regardless of where they are produced, “Wagashi (和菓子)” is the word for traditional Japanese confections.
Wagashi comes in many different types, which include Dorayaki, Manju, Dango, Daifuku Mochi, Sakura Mochi, and Kashiwa Mochi.
Wagashi vs Mochi
As you can see in these names, Wagashi is often made with “Mochi (餅)”, probably because of which some overseas people seem to confuse Wagashi with Mochi. So today first, let me explain the difference between them.
First of all, Mochi itself is not a confection but a traditional Japanese food made either by pounding steamed glutinous rice called “Mochi-Gome (餅米)” or kneading cereal powder with hot water.
The resulting plain white cake is soft, chewy, sticky, and not sweet at all, but it is typically used in Wagashi as a dough with sweet things such as sweetened Azuki red bean paste called “Anko (餡子)”.
In general, the Wagashi confections using Mochi rice cake are called “Mochi-Gashi (餅菓子)“.
Wagashi vs Namagashi
Actually, many varieties of Mochi-Gashi with Anko are classified into “Wa-Namagashi (和生菓子)” because the sweet red bean paste contains plenty of moisture.
As in its name, “Wa (和)” is an adjective meaning “Japanese”, Wa-Namagashi refers to Wagashi categorized in “Nama-Gashi (生菓子)”, which actually is the word that refers to sweets whose water content is over 40 percent right after they are made.
So Namagashi, literally meaning Fresh or Raw Confectionery, is a classification of confections set by law which includes both Wagashi and “Yogashi (洋菓子: Western confectionery)”.
By the way, the Western confectionery whose water content is over 40 percent, right after they are produced, is called “Yo-Namagashi (洋生菓子)”.