5 Types Of Japanese Beans To Try

by Erika Shinomoto
types of japanese beans

Here are the types of Japanese beans you have to try! Check it out!

Beans are probably one of the most staple food items that we see in our kitchens and dining table. While there are varied opinions about beans, you will still find a huge fan-following. There are so many different types of Japanese beans that you will always have a variety on your table. Today, I have brought to you some of these types that you can check out.

Japanese beans

I am pretty sure you will love experimenting with all of these different types of Japanese beans.

Types of Japanese Beans


The first one on our list of types of Japanese beans is Azuki beans.

Azuki is red bean that is high in protein. It has a naturally sweet flavor, making it one of the most consumed beans in Japan. Because of its sweet flavor, it is a part of many of Japan’s much-loved desserts, such as the bean paste that fills rice cakes and anpan (bean- filled buns). 

beans in Japan

Azuki is also used to prepare a very special dish known as sekihan. For this dish, azuki is cooked with mochi goma glutinous rice and sprinkled with salt and sesame seeds. The dish is served on special occasions such as birthdays and festivals.

Daizu (dried soybean)

The next one on our list of types of Japanese beans is the Daizu or dried soybean.

Daizu, or dried soybean first became popular in the 7th century when Buddhism entered Japan. This type of beans is considered to be very high in protein and fat. It is also rich in calcium, vitamins, and minerals. Daizu is known as the “beef of the field.” 

The US is the largest producer of Daizu, and Japan imports 5 million tons from around the world. Soybeans are used to make soybean oil, tofu, soymilk, miso, soy sauce, as well as several other things. 

daizu dried soybean

You can make kinako using roasted and finely ground soybeans. Kinako is a powdered coating for Japanese sweets. They can also be enjoyed boiled with seasonings and other vegetables.

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You will also be able to find dried soybeans in health food stores. These dried soybeans can be stored almost indefinitely in a cool, dark, and dry place. You can enjoy it whenever you want without worrying about it going bad.

There are so many different varieties available, with each of them having different flavors. If you are planning to make soymilk and tofu, it is advisable to go for mild and bland varieties.

Edamame (fresh soybean)

The next one on our list of types of Japanese beans is the very popular and my favorite Edamame!

Edamame are young green soybean pods that are full of succulent beans. This type is enjoyed at Japanese restaurants all across the planet. The usual way to enjoy Edamame is alongside a glass of cold beer. At least that is how I prefer to eat the delicious edamame. 

You can find Edamame in a frozen state in the West. These can be available with or without their shells. If you plan on visiting a farmer’s market, keep a lookout for edamame that is still on the branch (eda = branch, mame = bean). Nothing is better than fresh beans plucked straight out of the branch. 

edamame japanese beans

You can boil them in salted water for five minutes, or until they turn bright green and are still al dente. You can then enjoy a bowl of these beans hot or at room temperature. The pod is tough and hairy and is not to be eaten. You can put the whole pod in your mouth and softly bite it to release the beans. 

These beans are considered to be high in protein and low in calories. I love these when I am on a diet and need something to keep me going without overloading my body with calories. Your little ones will also love munching on these as a part of their snacks. For cooked dishes, the shelled and frozen variety work well, adding color and protein to vegetarian dishes.

Kuromame (black soybean)

The next one on our list of types of beans in Japan is the Kuromame.

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In Japan, kuromane or black soybean is considered to be a highly auspicious dish, especially for the Oshogatsu New Year’s celebration. It is glossy black and is long simmered. The dish is said to be a symbol of fertility. The beans are simmered in sweet syrup, along with kombu. 

kuromame black soybean

I loved this dish when I tried it for the first time in Japan, and ever since then, I have tried to replicate the sweet taste at home, but to no avail. It seems that no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot get that authentic Japanese taste at home. If you have ever tried it and been successful at it, kindly let me know. 

Natto (fermented soybeans)

The next one on our list of types of Japanese beans is Natto aka fermented soybeans

Most of us are not huge fans of fermented food, probably because of its strong flavors. I, at least, had a hard time getting used to the taste of Natto, or fermented soybeans. This dish truly is a test for all those non-Japanese people who love Japanese food.

This is a type of beans that is not highly in-demand, especially among Westerners. It is not very appealing, even to many Japanese. 

natto fermented soybeans japanese beans

The Japanese beans are allowed to ferment with a starter bacteria for over a day, which causes a sticky, slimy substance to form. The beans then get an earthy, pungent aroma that is almost like that of rotting cheese. It is usually eaten over rice for breakfast, flavored with soy sauce, a dab of hot mustard, and chopped green onions or shiso.

How Are Japanese Beans Related to the Japanese Culture

The Japanese have been eating beans for quite a long time now. There are various types of beans that hold cultural significance, especially in Okinawa. Beans are eaten for good health and luck, removing evil spirits, doing away with ghosts, etc. 

Setsubun is a festival in February where the Japanese scatter roasted beans outside their doors to fight evils (oni) and to bring good luck. In some areas, old men dress like oni (Japanese evil) and people throw beans on them which is actually quite fun. 

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During the New Year, people enjoy sweetened beans called Kuromame in Osechi Ryori as they’re considered to bring prosperity, good health, and good luck.

Japanese beans: FAQ

What kind of beans do the Japanese eat?

The Japanese eat a lot of different types of beans like adzuki, edamame, natto, kuromame etc. These beans have cultural significance as well and are also included in an eveyday Japanese diet.

​​What are Japanese red beans?

Adzuki beans that are also known as red beans are very famous in Japan. They are high in protein and are naturally sweet. They are widely used in Japanese desserts.

Is natto same as miso?

Natto and miso are not the same as natto including the fermentation of the whole beans while miso is the fermentation of beans paste.

Is it okay to eat natto everyday?

Natto strengthens immunity and helps with cardiovascular diseases. It also helps in digesting your meal properly and easily. Hence, a small quantity of natto beans can be consumed every day.

The Bean Culture

Beans are a huge part of Japanese culture. There are many reasons why the Japanese love their beans. The most common reason why beans are a huge part of the culture is because of their health benefits. It is also believed that beans bring good luck. I hope you found all these types very fascinating. Next time you are cooking, be sure to add some beans to the menu. 

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