Sakura Mochi: Domyoji Mochi vs. Chomeiji Mochi
The cherry blossom Sakura (桜) season is just around the corner here in Japan.
When people think of sweets for the Japanese tradition of viewing cherry blossoms, Hanami (花見), many will picture Dango (団子) rice dumplings.
But there is one more Japanese confection, or Wagashi (和菓子), that you should remember for the spring season, called Sakura Mochi.
Sakura Mochi (桜餅)
Sakura Mochi (桜餅), literally cherry blossom rice cake, is a traditional Japanese Wagashi confection with over 300 years of history.
It is a soft, chewy, sticky rice cake filled with sweet Azuki red bean paste.
As its name indicates, the Japanese treat features its beautiful pink hue, wrapped with a pickled cherry tree leaf. And that is why we associate this sweet treat with the Sakura season.
As for the variety, Sakura Mochi comes in two styles; Domyoji Sakura Mochi (simply, Domyoji Mochi) and Chomeiji Sakura Mochi (Chomeiji Mochi).
Domyoji Mochi (道明寺餅)
Domyoji Mochi is a type of Sakura Mochi with roots in the Kansai region around Osaka.
The Kansai version uses rice powder called Domyoji-Ko (道明寺粉) made from glutinous rice steamed, dried, and coarsely ground, and its name derives from the ingredient.
The main characteristic of Domyoji Sakura Mochi is the distinctive combination of the granular dough and the stickiness of each rice grain.
This type is widely available around the country, and when we say Sakura Mochi, in many cases, that refers to the Domyoji Sakura Mochi.
Chomeiji Mochi (長命寺餅)
On the other hand, Chomeiji Mochi is a Sakura Mochi that originated in the Kanto region, created around 1717.
The birthplace is an old Buddhist temple in Mukojima, Tokyo, named Chomeiji (長命寺) (Google Maps).
Unlike Domyoji Mochi, the Kanto version has a thin outer pink covering made by baking a mixture of wheat flour, glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water.
However, the filling is the same as Domyoji Sakura Mochi; sweet red bean paste or Anko (餡子).
Although the first ingredient is wheat flour, the name includes Mochi.
Cherry Tree Leaf
Many Japanese, including me, eat Sakura Mochi’s cherry tree leaf, as it’s edible and pickled in salt. It is tender except for the vein, and I think it is easy to eat.
Despite that, the Japan Wagashi Association (全国和菓子協会) recommends not eating it to feel the original taste of Sakura Mochi.
The leaf’s primary aim is to make the cake fragrant and prevent it from getting dry.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 桜餅)