What gets to be a 団子?(だんご)

(Context: I’m an ALT in Japan at a Junior High and Elementary school)

I was eating lunch with my students yesterday, and after everyone gets served their portion, the homeroom teacher usually calls out if anyone wants extras of anything leftover. Yesterday was meatball day, and the teacher asked a few times if they wanted another 団子. The only time I’ve ever heard that translated as “meatball” was in the Sailor Moon dub, and I assumed that it was just a cultural translation so kids had an easier reference point. But are meatballs technically in the world of 団子 too? Is anything else included? Or is it actually just for mochi-related foods?

tl;dr is a meatball a 団子?


That’s interesting, I thought it could only be applied to something made from rice. I await an answer.

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I think it can be anything round. But then, is a たこやき a 団子?

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  1. ball-shaped object; something round​

I believe normally a meatball would be 肉団子 or just ミートボール, but you could probably just say 団子 so long as you’re looking at, eating, holding, whatever meatballs.

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Definition #1 is the one you were familiar with

① 穀類の粉をこねてまるめ、蒸したり、ゆでたりした食品。あん・きなこなどをつけて食べる。 「月見-」

But they used definition #2

② まるく固めたもの。 「土-」 「肉-」


I think the ultimate test is if the meatballs attract pheasants, monkeys and dogs, then they’re 団子


Dango,dango…dango daikazoku


Dango by itself is generally mochi thing but I’ve seen it used for meatballs or other round things.

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That would make it a きびだんご :wink:


Whenever I hear ‘dango’, I always think of the drama 花より男子 which pronounces 男子 as ’dango’ as a pun to the idiom 花より団子

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