Wagashi: Sakura Mochi (Kanto-Style)

Sakura Mochi (Kanto-Style) 関東風桜餅
Sakura Mochi 桜もち
Late March and early April is sakura time in Kyoto. For about a month, it’s sakura this and sakura that, — even sakura mochi! Sweet, chewy, salty and above all fragrant and perfumy. This wagashi confection is mochi wrapped in a salted sakura leaf, sometimes a salted sakura blossom garnishes the top.

What is Sakura Mochi?
Sakura mochi is a spring wagashi confection popular throughout Japan. There are various renditions and generally there is a mochi or mochi rice ball filled with anko that is wrapped in a salted sakura cherry leaf. Sakura mochi is said to be invented in 1717 in Edo (present day Tokyo) by a guard named Yamamoto Shinroku at Chomei-ji Temple utilizing sakura leaves from trees planted by Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune along the nearby scenic Sumida River. The enterprising temple gaurd then began to sell his tasty invention.

In Kanto (Tokyo) sakura mochi is usually made with a pink ‘crepe’ filled with anko and wrapped with a sakura leaf. In Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe) usually steamed mochi rice is shaped into a ball filled with anko and wrapped with a leaf.

While I purchased this sakura mochi at a fine wagashi store here in Kyoto, it is definitely of the Kanto ‘crepe’ variety.

Kyoto Sakura Blossoms
Sakura Mochi 桜もち

Sakura Mochi Package
Sakura Mochi 桜もち

Sakura Mochi
Sakura Mochi 桜もち

Sakura Mochi
Sakura Mochi 桜もち

Sakura Mochi
Sakura Mochi 桜もち

How did it taste?
Before it gets to your mouth, sakura mochi is experienced by the nose. The fragrance of sakura is very intense. It is pervading and perfumy to the extent that you might think that it is artificial and fake, but it is natural.

If you have had stuffed grape leaves, sinking your teeth into sakura mochi will immediately remind you of that wonderful dish.

The mochi is soft and inside is anko (fine ground azuki bean paste). The sweetness pleasantly contrasts with the saltiness of the preserved leaf.

As you chew, there is a wonderful and intermittent squeakiness on your teeth from the leaf.

Sakura Mochi – Cross Section
Sakura Mochi 桜もち

12 Responses to “Wagashi: Sakura Mochi (Kanto-Style)”

  1. Arun says:

    Gorgeous…I’ve had the Kansai variety before, but I’m eager to try this one too sometime!

  2. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Arun, I found a nice image of the Kansai variety.

    Sakura Mochi Kansai Style

  3. adel says:

    nice sakura..i have seen quite some in Ireland too..different variety but almost the same :)
    mochi looks so delicate :) yum…

  4. amy says:

    I wish I knew where to obtain on that stuff in the states…I would love to try that.

  5. Peko Peko says:

    Hello adel, You have seen ‘sakura’ trees in Ireland or sakura mochi?

    Hello amy, Yes, we really need to get more of the varieties of Japanese food in the US, I think. You can get the salted cherry blossoms quite easily, online, etc, I think. You can get the flavor and go from there with your own creations!

  6. Wanderita says:

    I love sakura mochi, I tried when I went to Nara and Osaka!

  7. Egregious says:

    You can get sakuramochi (looks like kansai style) at Temari Café in Rockville, Maryland, while the cherry blossoms are in bloom in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.

  8. [...] this article for more about Kanto-style sakura mochi and the history of this wagashi [...]

  9. [...] about Sakura Mochi on KyotoFoodie Sakura Mochi (History and Kanto-style) Sakura Mochi [...]

  10. pixen says:

    I had something like that when I was in Paris… if I’m not mistaken the shop’s name is Toraya. They have the Kansai variety. It was an experience for me as there were so many beautiful choices that I don’t which one to begin with. Pity, my stay at Paris was only for 1 week and I had to attend some meetings and friends. I think I would go to the shop every day to taste every one in their menu!

  11. [...] On Kyotofoodie you can see a different Kanto sakura mochi. [...]

  12. Jigglypuff says:

    I’ve tried Sakuramochi at a resturant called Mikado here in Edmonton. at first it was a bit terrible tasting, but it grew on me after some time. ^-^

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