Yakimochi: 2 Different Meanings of the Japanese Word

In Japanese, there is an idiom, Yakimochi wo Yaku (焼き餅を焼く) (Pronunciation), which literally means to grill a grilled rice cake.

But it is almost always used as an idiom, and the phrase means to be/get jealous. 

In the idiom of Yakimochi wo Yaku, Yakimochi can be written in two ways using Japanese words.

Yakimochi (やきもち) and Yaki Mochi (焼き餅)

One is Yaki Mochi (焼き餅), partially using Kanji characters, while the other is represented as Yakimochi (やきもち), only using Hiragana letters.

And these two terms have different meanings.

Yaki Mochi (焼き餅)

Yaki Mochi (焼き餅)

The former Yaki Mochi (焼き餅) usually refers to a grilled rice cake and doesn’t mean jealousy,

as in its word, Yaki (焼き) is the prefix for grilled, while Mochi (餅) stands for a rice cake.

Yakimochi (やきもち)

Yakimochi (やきもち)

But when Yakimochi only uses Hiragana letters, it (やきもち) means jealousy.

Compared to Shitto (嫉妬), which also means jealousy in Japanese, Yakimochi tends to be jealous without a strong feeling of hatred.

Origin of the Word 

In the Japanese language, 妬く(Yaku) is the verb meaning be/get jealous, and 焼く (Yaku) for “grill” in English has the same reading as 妬く.

Yaki Mochi (焼き餅) is a traditional Mochi dish that is very familiar to us Japanese, and Kimochi included in its word can also be written as 気持ち, meaning feelings.

Yakimochi (やきもち), short for Yaku Kimochi (妬く気持ち), is said to have been created as a play on words.


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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