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Satsumaimo Japanese Yam + Recipes

Yams or “Satsuma Imo” were first introduced to Japan in the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) in 1604 by the Chinese. They were then introduced in Kyushu in 1609, an area that grows 80% of the total Japanese production.

Sweet potatoes should not be confused with yams or yama imo/山芋 in Japanese.

They have been recognized in this country for a long time for both their nutritional and pharmaceutical values.

Description/Taste Satsumaimo sweet potatoes have garnet colored skin and a pale cream colored flesh when raw. Once cooked the flesh turns a light yellow in color. The Satsumaimo are often longer and more slender tubers than other sweet potato varieties, boasting a mildly sweet flavor and soft, starchy flesh.

Seasons/Availability Satsumaimo sweet potatoes are available year-round with peak season in the fall and winter months.

Current Facts Sweet potatoes are botanically classified as Ipomoea batatas. Popular common names for Satsumaimo potato varieties include Beniaka, Beniazuma and Kintoki. The Satsumaimo is grown primarily in Kyushi, Japan and from there these sweet potatoes are shipped to the rest of Japan and around the world.

The Satsuma-imo is grown primarily in Kyushu, Japan, and from there the delicious sweet potatoes are shipped to the rest of Japan and around the world.

The only difference between that of a Satsuma-imo and an American sweet potato is that Satsuma-imos tend to have a milder flavor, softer flesh, and a lighter yellow coloring.


There are over a hundred species in Japan, but the most popular edible ones (not the ones exclusively used for making shochu) have red skins and light yellow flesh.

Beni Azuma/ベニアズマ, mostly eaten in Eastern Japan. Turns very sweet upon cooking.

Naruto Kintoki/鳴門金時, popular in Western Japan. Considered elegant and sweet.

Tosabeni/土佐紅, also attributed “No 14 value (top)”, is very sweet and is a “brand name” sweet potato.

Manamusume,/愛娘 another “No 14 value” brand sweeet potato.

Gorou Shima Kintoki/五郎島金時, particularly popular as baked sweet potato.

Kougane Sengan/黄金千貫, considered as the top shochu sweet potato.

Tanegashima Mukashi Mitsu Imo/種子島昔蜜芋, a sweet potao with a beautiful orange colour and elegant taste.

Annou Imo/安納いも, rich in carotens, with a beautiful orange colour and very sweet.

Purple Sweet Road/パープルスイートロード, an interesting name for a sweet tasty hybrid.

A favorite “Tanegashima Gold Imo” grown in Taneko Island south of Kyushu. It has the particularity of being red when raw before changing to a rich golden color when cooked. Among other varieties, the violet sweet potatoes are getting increasingly popular.

Tanekoshima sweet potato (deep yellow), “common sweet potato” (light yellow) and Murasaki/Violet potato.

A great combination of the three above as a cold salad with mayonnaise or cream-based dressing.


-Choose specimens with nice color and a “fat/roundish” aspect! -Plunge yam in cold water as soon as you have cut them. They will not lose their color! -Boil, bake or steam long enough before taking skin off. Discard skin! -Leaves can be eaten!


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