Arare: 3 Possible Meanings of the Japanese Word

When those familiar with Japanese food hear Arare, many probably picture a small round rice cracker made from Mochi (餅) glutinous rice cake.

Arare (あられ) is one of the traditional Japanese rice crackers, together with Senbei (煎餅) and Okaki (おかき), and it is more on the Okaki side rather than Senbei.

While Senbei is Japan’s most consumed rice cracker, made from non-glutinous rice, Okaki also uses Mochi as its main ingredient and differs from Arare in size.

Arare (あられ/霰/アラレ) Meaning

Arare Meaning in Japanese

Based on the article おかき on Japanese Wikipedia, there is no clear definition now between Okaki and Arare.

In the old days, what used a knife to make Mochi into smaller pieces had the name Arare, while what used a hammer was Okaki.

But today, they are distinguished by their apparent size, and Okaki is large compared to Arare.

霰 meaning Graupel

霰 (Arare) Meaning Graupel

Based on the article あられ (菓子) on Japanese Wikipedia, Arare is the abbreviation of Arare Mochi, represented using Kanji characters 霰餅. 

In 霰餅, the former 霰 is the word for hail or graupel in English, and the cracker name comes from the snow pellets with similar shapes to the snack.

アラレ assosiated with Norimaki Arare

Meanwhile, Arare (アラレ), written with Hiragana letters, will remind many Japanese people of Norimaki Arare.

Kameda Ume Norimaki Arare Rice Crackers

Norimaki Arare can mean two different things, and one is the nori (seaweed) roll Arare rice cracker 海苔巻きあられBut what I mean here is the other 則巻アラレ.

Norimaki Arare (則巻 アラレ) or Arare Chan (アラレちゃん) is the protagonist in the Dr. Slump series created by Akira Toriyama, the manga artist known for the Dragon Ball series.

She is a robot built by Norimaki Senbei (則巻 千兵衛), dubbed Dr. Slump, whose name can also mean a nori roll rice cracker or 海苔巻き煎餅.

Norimaki Senbei


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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