I looked at two different sentences:

  • 六時半に母とばんごはんをつくりました。(At 6:30, I made dinner with my mother.)

  • よるごはんのあと家族とえいがをみました。(After dinner, I watched a movie with my family.)

In both sentences, they mention the word dinner. I know that breakfast, lunch and dinner end in ごはん (gohan), so the only words that must mean dinner in these sentences are,

  • ばんごはん

  • よるごはん

What is the difference between ばんごはん and よるごはん? If there is no difference and they mean the same thing (although different words), when and when not is it used in a sentence?

I asked my teacher, and my teacher said that they do mean the same thing, and we can use either word in any case and/or scenario in a sentence. If that be, why are there two different words? What is the history behind that? (I know the "gohan" history, but it did not include the development of these two words meaning the same thing.) Is my teacher correct?

Thank you in advance.

This post and this one and this one, too are all related, but do not answer my question. (There are countless other posts like this, but when typing out my title, the possibility of a duplicate post did not show.)

I would like an answer that is descriptive and detailed like the answers in the links.

  • 2
    This one is related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/9588/5010 . Automatic dupe detection system is very unreliable, but you can often find a real related question when you search manually.
    – naruto
    Jul 18, 2018 at 4:48

2 Answers 2


I don't see any difference in meaning or formality between the two, but 晩ごはん is much more common. 夜ごはん is not uncommon nor strange, either. Here are some hit counts from BCCWJ.

  • 晩ごはん: 83
  • 晩御飯: 221
  • 晩ご飯: 158
  • 夜ごはん: 27
  • 夜御飯: 3
  • 夜ご飯: 34

And there's also 夕ごはん【ゆうごはん】, which is more common than 夜ごはん.

  • 夕ごはん: 34
  • 夕御飯: 9
  • 夕ご飯: 61

I also checked this forum. It seemed that 晩ご飯 is clearly dominant in Kansai (western Japan), but there seemed to be no apparent tendency in the other parts of Japan. 夕 means "evening" rather than "night", so people who usually eats late at night might want to avoid it.

(BTW, 夕食 and 夜食 are clearly different. 夕食 is simply dinner, whereas 夜食 refers to light midnight meal/snack.)

I'm not aware of any interesting background story specific to this topic, but every language has tons of synonyms, after all.

  • Yes. I mean, I was only interested because I assume there might have been very small and picky differences between the words. I was just unsure whether or not this affected why (and not necessarily how) they were used in a sentence, and in which event. At least I know with the other words you mentioned in your answer. (+1) for that and your clear explanation; this was the kind of answer I was looking for :)
    – Mr Pie
    Jul 18, 2018 at 5:51

A) 六時半に母とばんごはんをつくりました。(At 6:30, I made dinner with my mother.)

B) よるごはんのあと家族とえいがをみました。(After dinner, I watched a movie with my family.)

Look at statement B). It stated with Yoru BanGohan No Ato. in this case it is trying to convey that the timing is Night or Evening Time. It is not talking about Dinner. It is two seperate words. It should be read as よる、ごはんのあと。

  • Or. there should be a gap. seperating the two words. We should pronounced it as YORU .... GOHANNOATO. 夜 ご飯の後家族と映画を見ました。 Oct 16, 2019 at 7:52

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