The Story of Oyatsu!

Have you ever heard the word ‘Oyatsu’ ? ”Yatsu” literally means “eight” and “O“ as always denotes the polite way of saying the word. But Oyatsu actually means the snacks. There is really an interesting story behind how snacks came to be called by this name.
In the early ages, Japanese people used to have a meal only two times a day: in the morning and at night. As a result, the people working in farms and other places got tired by afternoon and feels hungry. Inorder to regain their energy, they used to eat some snacks like fruits, nuts or mochi during that time. According to the ancient time measurement existed in Japan, it was around 8’o clock(afternoon). This time was called Yatsu-doki and hence the name Oyatsu was given to those snacks. After that, as the time changed, it comes around today’s 3 pm. Later, people started calling these items as ‘Osanji’  based on the new timing, but still the name Oyatsu is very popular for all types of snacks. Even though people take three meals a day now, most people like to have some snacks by around 3 pm.
Every food items eaten during the daytime in between the meals are called Oyatsu. They mostly include snacks. We can see the writing Oyatsu in many snack packets. In the ancient days, there were separate Oyatsu for the poor and the rich peoples. But now, there are a lot of snacks available in different forms. Many kinds of cakes, ice creams, crackers, nuts etc. are currently available in the market which all are Oyatsu.
Okashi is a familiar word in Japan which refers to the sweet items usually enjoyed with the tea. The Japanese traditional sweet items involve food with sweet red beans or Anko fillings, fruits, Dango, sweet mochi etc. The word Okashi in Japanese culture actually refers to plant products like mochi or fruits. There are a lot of sweet items like candy, cakes etc. available now which are all called Okashi. Japanese love to enjoy various tastes and hence Okashi is very important for them. Okashi is also Oyatsu as most of the Oyatsu available now are sweets.
Enjoy your tea breaks and remember the story of Oyatsu when you have your snacks next time!!