Sakura Mochi (Kanto-Style) 関東風桜餅
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 Package
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