Vegetables facts & Tips 19: Yama Imo/Yama No Imo/Japanese Yam

Yama no Imo Plant

Yama Imo or Yama no Imo/山芋 is the Japanese name for Japanese Yam.
It has been picked in its natural form and cultivated for eons in Japan where it comes into many recipes, either as a vegetable of its own or as an additive to Japanese recipes as a liaising ingredient.
It is also extensively used in vegetarian (vegan) cuisine in this country.
It is also very much valued for its stamina and medicinal properties.


-Contains a high amount of potassium, calcium, magnesium, natrium and other minerals.
Rich in Vitamin B1, B2, B6 and C and vegetal fibers.

-Easy to digest and eat either raw or cooked.


There are quite a few varieties and can be all used in the same way:

Yama no imo: Nagaimo/長い芋

Shizenjyo is the natural and highly priced Japanese Yam!

Ichyo Imo

Tsukune Imo


Mukago is actually the aerial seed and can be eaten. Slightly expensive considering the size, but great taste, boiled or deep-fried.


-Choose a specimen that shows a uniform colour without blemishes.

-Some people’skin might get irritated when cutting the yama Imo. In this case deep-freeze it first and cut it as it is.

-Preserve as a whole wrapped into newspaper inside the fridge.

-Preserve it cut inside an airtight vinyl bag in the freezer.


It is greatly appreciated just cut in thin slices/sticks with a little ponzu, shiso and ponzu!

It is often served as a component of an array of dishes into a full Japanese meal. Grated into paste, it is called “tororo”.

It can be sauteed/fried with olive oil, sesame oil or butter!

Grated, it can combined with tofu,

or into okonmiyaki!

It can also become a great appetizer when combined with agar agar!

Europeans and Americans will appreciate it as a gratin!


-Combined with daikon, or turnips, or Chinese cabbage, or chili peppers, helps reinforce the digestive system and appetite.

-Combined with okra, or lotus roots, or nameko mushrooms, helps lower blood cholesterol and provides additional stamina.

-Combined with soy beans, or pomegranate, or myoga ginger, helps balance hormones and blood circulation.

-Combined with cabbage, or potatoes, or broccoli, or Chinese cabbage, helps combat cancer and ageing.

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12 thoughts on “Vegetables facts & Tips 19: Yama Imo/Yama No Imo/Japanese Yam”

  1. I just watched a popular medical program which listed “Imo” as one of the new superfoods. It was said that it promotes longevity in Japanese people and had more beta carotene and Vitamin A than other potatoes. However, I see there are many, many varities of Imo. Is there a specific one that gives great health benefits? Many thanks 🙂


      1. Dear Kitt!
        You are most welcome!
        But I’m not a chef, just a gastronome (one of my brothers is a chef back in France!)


  2. Where can I purchase Imo? I live on the Southeast side of Chicago, Illinois.

    Is there a cook book on how variations on how to prepare Imo?

    Thank you


  3. On the Japanese Yam, what sort of taste does it have. I have actually seen this in a small market in Chicago and just assumed it was radishy, but it doesn’t sound that way from your recipes above.



    1. Dear Friend!
      If you eat it raw and sliced, it is crucnhy and soft, tasting something like between Daikon and artchoke.
      Grated it wiil acquire taginess and will tickle your lips and tongue if raw.
      Grated and mixed with other things and cooked, you will not be able totaste it but it will become a useful liaising ingredient.
      Fried or deep-fried it is a bit similar to lotus roots!


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