Sanshoku Dango: Meanings of the 3 Colors of the Dumplings

“Dango (団子)” is a dumpling typically made from Joshinko flour (made from non-glutinous rice called Uruchi-Mai) kneaded with water, shaped into balls, and steamed or boiled.

The prepared dumplings are skewered on a bamboo stick, eaten with sweet things, considered a wagashi.

The confection comes in many varieties, but “Sanshoku Dango (三色団子)” is one of the best known because it is the Hanami Dango eaten in the cherry blossom viewing festival in the spring season.

Sanshoku Dango (三色団子)

Yamazaki Sanshoku Dango

So Sanshoku Dango reminds many people of full bloom sakura trees, but the confection is actually available all year round.

In fact, yesterday I got a pack at a supermarket, for when I saw the “Sanshoku (三色: three colors)” dumplings, I wondered what the colors mean and wanted to know about the Dango in detail.

Meanings of the Three Colors

Sanshoku Dango Dumplings

After purchasing it and coming home, I researched the meanings and found this article. According to that, Sanshoku Dango is made up of pink, white, green-colored dumplings, in order from the top, and

  • The pink-colored dumpling represents the cherry blossom bud.
  • The white dumpling represents full bloom cherry blossoms.
  • The green-colored dumpling represents cherry tree leaves after the blossoms have fallen.

Sanshoku Dango Rice Dumplings

The colors themselves, each has a meaning;

  • The pink stands for the springtime when sakura blooms.
  • The white stands for the wintertime when snow falls.
  • The green stands for the summertime when leaves grow.
  • The reason why there is no “Aki (秋: autumn)” is that you can’t get enough of Sanshoku Dango or because of the “飽きない (Aki-Nai: can translate to there is no autumn)” taste.


Yamazaki Sanshoku Dango Ingredients Nutrition Facts Calories Label

In addition, I was not sure what the colors come from. So next, I checked the ingredients label.

According to that, the Dango dumplings are sweetened with sugars and colored with Monascus, gardenia, and cochineal pigments. 

And after eating, I found they have the same delicious taste.


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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