Okowa vs. Sekihan: Japanese Rice Dishes

As I wrote in the previous post, I enjoyed Sekihan red rice with Marumiya’s Gomashio sesame salt yesterday.

And today, a question suddenly crossed my mind. That is, Okowa (おこわ/御強) and Sekihan (赤飯) are the same things or different?

I asked a friend, and he said they are different things. But I thought Sekihan could be called Okowa. And next, I looked it up on Wikipedia to clear my mind.

Okowa vs. Sekihan

赤飯 (Sekihan) using Azuki red beansSekihan or Okowa

From the article おこわ on Japanese Wikipedia, I soon got the answer that Okowa includes Sekihan, and in a narrow sense, they are the same thing.

But I wondered, in the first place, what is the definition of Okowa?

What is Okowa (おこわ)?

I read it through and found that Okowa, in a broad sense, refers to steamed Mochi-Gome (餅米: known as glutinous or sticky or sweet rice in English-speaking countries).

栗おこわ (Kuri Okowa) using chestnutsKuri Okowa

The origin of the name is similar to that of Onigiri, derived from the feminine expression of こわめし (Kowameshi) or こわいい (Kowaii), represented as 強飯 using Kanji.

強飯 (Kowameshi/Kowaii) literally means firm rice and denotes the distinctive chewy texture of Mochigome rice here.


山菜おこわ (Sansai Okowa) using edible wild plantsSansai Okowa

Nowadays, Okowa sometimes uses a blend of Uruchi-Mai (うるち米: non-glutinous rice) and Mochi-Gome (glutinous rice).

And representative dishes include Sekihan, Kuri Okowa (栗おこわ: chestnut Okowa), and Sansai Okowa (山菜おこわ: wild plant Okowa).


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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