Tofu: What are Yakko Dofu and Hiyayakko?

“Tofu (豆腐)” is a processed soy food, known as soybean curd, widely seen in East and Southeast Asia such as China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The word “豆腐” is said to have first appeared in the Chinese document “淸異錄 (Qing yi lu)” (965), so tofu has at least over 1000 years of history.

Today, tofu is available in many parts of the world, and many people know quite well about the food. 

Yakko Dofu and Hiyayakko

Yakko Dako

In Japan, tofu has another name of “Yakko (奴)”, which can be seen in the name of “Hiyayakko (冷奴)” known as cold tofu in English-speaking countries.

Yakko originally refers to servants of the samurai family. In the Edo period (1603 to 1868), the Yakko servants wore kimonos with square crests, from which tofu is said to have gotten the name Yakko. 

So Yakko or Yakko Dofu correctly refers to a square cut tofu, and Hiyayakko is a Yakko (tofu) served chilled, as “Hiya (冷)” in its name means “cold” or “chilled” in Japanese.

How to Eat Hiyayakko (Cold Tofu)

Hiyayakko with shoga and green onions

In Japan, Hiyayakko or cold tofu is often garnished with some toppings (such as shoga, chopped green onions, Myoga ginger, green shiso leaves, Daikon Oroshi grated radish, and Katsuobushi bonito flakes) and dressed with dark soy sauce or Koikuchi Shoyu.

But other than these, Hiyayakko can be eaten in various ways; Some people season it with ponzu or togarashi miso, while some others like to eat it with natto and okra.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 冷奴, Japan Tofu Association )



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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