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, including 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)“. Because of that, some people seem to confuse Wagashi with Mochi. So today, first, let me explain the difference between the two.
First of all, Mochi itself is not a sweet 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 white cake is soft, chewy, sticky, and plain. It is typically used in Wagashi as a dough with sweet things such as sweetened Azuki red bean paste or “Anko (餡子)”.
The Wagashi confections using Mochi rice cake are generally called “Mochi-Gashi (餅菓子)“.
Wagashi vs. Namagashi
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.
In its name, “Wa (和)” is an adjective meaning “Japanese”, and Wa-Namagashi refers to Wagashi categorized in “Nama-Gashi (生菓子)”.
Nama-Gashi, literally fresh or raw confectionery, is the word that refers to sweets whose water content is over 40 percent right after being made.
Namagashi is a classification of confections set by law, including both Wagashi and “Yogashi (洋菓子: Western confectionery)”.
By the way, the Western confectionery whose water content is over 40 percent (right after being made) is generally called “Yo-Namagashi (洋生菓子)”.