What Is Japanese Yam and How Is It Used?

What Is Japanese Yam (Yama-imo)?

Japanese yam is called yama-imo (mountain potato) in Japanese.

This is the name of edible potato (Dioscorea japonica) that grows naturally in mountains. Nowadays, a lots of them are cultivated by farmers in Japan.

Although the word “potato (imo)” is attached in Japanese, it looks and tastes completely different from potatoes.

The biggest difference is stickiness, and you can enjoy this texture with various dishes.

What Does Japanese Yam Taste Like?

The taste of Japanese yam is not so strong, and has very unique potato flavor.
Since it has simple and light taste, it usually mixed or seasoned with soy sauce or dashi (stock).

The texture of it differ depending on how you cut and cook. Please check the differences below.

Cut yam

The cross section of cut yam is sticky, so you can feel a little slimy texture without making grated yam.

Unlike the grated one, it has a crispy texture like radish when chewing. Interestingly, the cooked yam will have soft and flaky texture, and the stickiness weakens.

Grated yam

Grated yam has totally sticky, gooey and slimy texture. It’s very smooth and can be mixed with seasonings or other ingredient easily.

If you are putting the grated yam into the dough of okonomiyaki, it will become very fluffy and delicious.

Different Types of Yam in Japan

There are so many types of yam in Japan, and here are five types that are familiar to Japanese people.

The 5 Major Types of Japanese Yam

Are Japanese Yams the Same As Chinese Yam?

They are both called yama-imo in Japan, but strictly speaking, they are different types of yam.

Please check here for details.

How Is Japanese Yam Used?

Unlike the regular potatoes, Japanese yam and Chinese yam can be eaten without heating. Of course you can also use it for cooking. Here are some examples of the dishes using yam.

Cut yam

Aemono (vegitable with dressing)

Mixing cut yam with various other materials, for instance, cucumbers, okra, natto, salted plum, etc is very popular in Japan. The dressing can be anything including soy sauce, spicy sauce, and ponzu sauce.

Yam steak

Yam steak is made with diced or thickly sliced Japanese yam. I recommend to bake it with sliced garlic and season with soy sauce. This is very simple, but extremely delicious with savory flavor.

Grated yam


I believe tororo is the most popular way to use Japanese yam. All you need to do is grate the yam, mix it with soy sauce or dashi, and put it on rice or noodles. You can also enjoy various toppings, for example, egg yolk, nori, wasabi, green onion, etc.


It’s also popular that adding grated yam into okonomiyaki dough. By adding this, the pancake will be unbelievably fluffy and super delicious. I could only use this in place of all-purpose flour actually. In this way, the okonomiyaki will become low in calories.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Japanese Yam?

The calories of yam vary depending on the type.
Generally, Japanese yam is around 120 kcal per 100 g of edible portion, while Chinese yam is around 65 kcal per 100 g of edible portion.

There is no big difference between Japanese and Chinese yam in the nutrients contained.
Both of them contains high quality protein, B vitamins, vitamin C, etc.

It also contains a lot of minerals such as potassium and magnesium, and they expected to be effective in preventing hypertension.

Are Japanese Yams the Same As Sweet Potatoes?

These two are totally different vegetable. Please check this page for details!

Japanese Yam vs Sweet Potato: What Are the Differences?

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