Tamago (卵) vs Tamago (玉子): The Difference in Meaning

Tamago is the Japanese word for “egg” and can be represented as “卵” or “玉子” using Chinese characters or Kanji. 

When it comes to the Japanese dish using Tamago, Tamago Yaki (rolled omelet) is especially popular overseas, and the name can be represented using Kanji both “卵焼き” and “玉子焼き”. 

But the roe of fishes isn’t “玉子” but “卵”, whereas the egg donburi, Tamago Don is definitely written “玉子丼”.

The Difference between Tamago (卵) and Tamago (玉子)

Nama Tamago (Raw Hen's Egg)

“玉子” and “卵” both mean “egg” but many people don’t know the correct way to use these words. Then, what are the exact meanings or definitions of “玉子” and “卵” in Japanese?

卵 (Tamago)

Actually, “卵” is the word for any egg or roe that hatches and grows including inedible ones. This Tamago has biological meaning.

玉子 (Tamago)

On the other hand, “玉子” is usually used only for edible birds’ eggs. But as far as raw hen’s egg is concerned, the Kanji “卵” is generally used. E.g. “Nama Tamago (生卵)”, “Tamago-Kake Gohan (卵かけご飯)”.

(Reference Pages: JA Zenno Tamago, Macaroni )


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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