When cherry blossom season is approaching you can see them everywhere in Japan.
It is one of my favorite sakura-flavored spring treats and I highly recommend you to try it when you visit Japan during the Hanami time.
In this blog post, I will tell and show you everything you need to know about Sakura Mochi.
Let’s explore its taste and flavor!
What is Sakura Mochi?
Sakura Mochi is a traditional Japanese sweet or “Wagashi” that represents the cherry blossom season. In English, it translates to “Cherry Blossom Rice Cake“.
The sweet mochi is made of pink-colored rice flour and filled with red bean paste (anko). Sometimes it is also wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf that is edible.
What does Sakura Mochi taste like?
If you have never tasted sakura-flavor before it is a little bit hard to imagine, but I’ll try my best to explain it.
In my opinion, sakura taste is very similar to cherry, but it is a lighter and more bloomy flavor. You can also experience the sweet flowery scent while eating blossom treats.
So Sakura Mochi has the same bloomy flavor combined with the strong sweet taste of the anko filling. If they are wrapped in a sakura leaf the leaf will add a distinctive and very interesting salty flavor.
The texture of Sakura Mochi is usually a little bit more sticky and also a bit more chunky than other mochis. It is also sweeter than other rice cakes.
Can you eat the leaf on sakura mochi?
This is probably the most common question asked and the answer is: Yes, you can eat leaf on Sakura Mochi.
If you have a sweet tooth you might prefer the version without leaf. If you eat it with the leaf you can enjoy the distinctive salty-sweet flavor. The leaf also adds a nice freshness and slightly different texture to the mochi.
So it is really up to you. If you can, try both options.
And to tell you the truth…I asked myself the same question when I tried Sakura Mochi for the first time at the cherry blossom festival in Kawazu. I had already removed the leaf when I saw a little Japanese girl eating it. So I stealthily wrapped it around the rice cake again and ate it all together.
When and where to Buy Sakura Mochi?
When can you buy it?
The bad news is that Sakura Mochi is a spring treat. Usually, they start selling them the later half of February because it is common to eat the rice cakes during Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day) on March 3rd.
You will definitely find them until the end of the cherry blossom viewing season. That’s the middle of April or sometimes even the beginning of May. After that, they are less commonly sold. Sometimes if you are lucky you can still find them though.
Where can you buy it?
You can buy them at all of the convenience stores – 7-11, Family Markt, and Lawson. Among the convenience store Sakura Mochi, my personal favorite is the 7-11 one. I just love the sweetness, texture, and slightly salty-sour taste of the little sakura flower on top.
You can also find Sakura Mochi at all major cherry blossom viewing spots. Just walk around the Hanami food stalls for a bit and you will find one that sells Cherry Blossom Rice Cakes.
Of course, you will also find them at department stores.
In Tokyo, I also know of 3 Japanese sweet stores that sell really good rice cakes. One is called Ginza Kanra (銀座甘楽) near Tokyo and Ginza Station. The other one is Shiba Eitaro (芝榮太樓) in Daimon and Hamatsucho Station. And the last one is Akasaka Aono (赤坂青野) near Akasaka-Mitsuke Station.
Sakura Mochi Recipe
In case you couldn’t try any in Japan, you could make your own rice cakes at home with one of these Sakura Mochi recipes. It’s less difficult than you think!
Sakura Mochi ingredients
The ingredients you need are sweet rice, sugar, water, strawberry jam or red food coloring, anko, and cherry blossom leaves. Most of the ingredients you will probably already have at home or if not you can easily buy them at the supermarket.
The Japanese anko paste you can either buy here, or you can make your own. You only need azuki beans, sugar, and salt.
The cherry blossom leaves might be the only difficult ingredient to get, but they are optional. On Amazon, I found this cherry blossom baking set sold by Nihon Ichiban. The set contains the pickled sakura leaves, pickled cherry blossoms, sakura syrup, sweet sakura paste, and sakura powder.
How to Make Sakura Mochi
Other Sakura Rice Cake Treats
You can also eat Sakura rice cakes in the form of ice cream. In spring Yawamochi Ice (やわもちアイス) sells there special Sakura Mochi flavor.
The cup consists of cherry blossom ice cream topped with anko and mochi. With the sakura sauce in the middle the five mochi look like a cherry blossom which is really cute. Another thing I like about this ice cream is that the anko contains cherry blossom leaves. So it tastes really similar to a Sakura Mochi.
Häagen-Dazs also has its own Sakura Mochi ice cream. It is called Hana-Mochi Sakura-An (華もち 桜あん).
A fun fact: mochi ice cream flavor is actually an American invention. But it has gotten popular in Japan as well and so they started making their own with flavors like this one.
Sakura Mochi Gudetama
Another popular Cherry Blossom Rice Cake item – even though not food-related – is this sakura-themed Gudetama. If you don’t know Gudetama it is a character produced by Sanrio – the same company that made Hello Kitty. It is quite popular in Japan and you will find a lot of merchandise for this lazy little egg yolk. Just take a look at it and you will immediately know why it is so popular.
Ready To Try Mochi Yourself?
Thank you for reading and I hope you are going to try Sakura Mochi next time when you are in Japan!
If you can’t wait until then try the recipe above.
Mochis are really not difficult to make!
See you next time!