Nagaimo: A Staple of Japanese Cuisine


The nagaimo (長芋ながいも), or Dioscorea opposita, is also known as the Chinese yam or Korean yam. The first kanji is “long”; the second is best read as “yam”. Yams long predated potatoes in Japanese cuisine.

The defining feature of the nagaimo is that, unlike other yams, it’s safe to eat nagaimo raw. That means you can grate nagaimo and use it in food almost instantly. Note that whole tubers are soaked in a vinegar-water solution to neutralize an irritant in the outer skin.


  • In grated form, it is called tororo.
  • Used as a topping for tororo udon.
  • Used for “authentic” okonomiyaki (home made style pancakes).
The root is also used in traditional Chinese medicine (“Shanyao root”). 


  • Low in calories
  • High in protein
  • High in potassium and many other nutrients

Note that high heat cooking will lower the nutritional value.


Recipes aren’t my forte, so try this site for a few recipe tips.  – J

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: [email protected]
This entry was posted in Food, Japan, Japanese and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.