Yamaimo vs. Nagaimo vs. Jinenjo: Japanese Yams

When I think of Japanese yams, what comes to my mind right away is Yamaimo (山芋: meaning Mountain Yam), Nagaimo (長芋: Long Yam), and Jinenjo (自然薯: Wild Yam).

These are similar things, all seem to be referred to as Japanese yams in English, and even Japanese people can be confused.

Yamaimo vs. Nagaimo vs. Jinenjo

Since I researched the three varieties of yams this time, I will share what I have learned today, giving an overview of how Yamaimo, Nagaimo, and Jinenjo differ.

Now let’s start with Yamaimo.

Yamaimo (山芋)

Yamaimo (Tsukune-Imo)

Yamaimo is not the name of a species of yam but the Japanese generic term for edible yams that belong to Yamanoimo-Ka (ヤマノイモ科: the family Dioscoreaceae), which include Nagaimo, Jinenjo, and Yamatoimo (大和芋).

At supermarkets in Japan, Yamatoimo, such as Ichoimo (イチョウ芋) and Tsukuneimo (つくね芋), tends to be sold under the name of Yamaimo.

Nagaimo (長芋)

Nagaimo long yam

Nagaimo, literally Long Yam, also known as Chinese yam, is a yam that originated from China.

When grated, or in Tororo (とろろ) form, Yamaimo (Yamatoimo) is thick and viscous with sweetness, while Nagaimo, containing lots of liquid, is smooth in consistency and light in taste.

Jinenjo (自然薯)

Jinenjo wild yam

Lastly, Jinenjo is a wild yam native to Japan. The viscosity of raw grated Jinenjo is strong, and in Japan, this variety has been valued since ancient times for its analeptic effects.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 山芋, Kagome )


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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