Sakura Mochi: Domyoji Mochi vs Chomeiji Mochi
The cherry blossom “Sakura (桜)” season is just around the corner here in Japan.
When Japanese people think of sweets for the Japanese tradition of viewing cherry blossoms “Hanami (花見)”, many will probably bring to mind “Dango (団子)” rice dumplings.
However, in addition to Dango, there is actually one more Japanese confection that shouldn’t be forgotten for the spring cherry blossom season, which is called “Sakura Mochi (桜餅)”.
Sakura Mochi (桜餅)
Sakura Mochi, literally cherry blossom rice cake, is a traditional Japanese “Wagashi (和菓子)” confection with more than 300 years of history. It is a soft, chewy, sticky rice cake with a sweetened Azuki red bean paste filling inside.
As its name indicates, the Japanese treat features its beautiful pink hue like cherry blossoms and is wrapped with a pickled cherry tree leaf. This is why we associate this sweet treat with the Sakura season.
As for the variety, Sakura Mochi actually comes in two types, Domyoji Sakura Mochi and Chomeiji Sakura Mochi, which are often simply called just Domyoji Mochi and Chomeiji Mochi.
Domyoji Mochi (道明寺餅)
Domyoji Mochi is a type of Sakura Mochi with its roots in the Kansai region around Osaka.
This Kansai-style Sakura Mochi uses rice powder called “Domyoji-Ko (道明寺粉)” as its main ingredient made from glutinous rice that has been steamed, dried, and coarsely ground.
The name of this Sakura Mochi is derived from the ingredient Domyoji-Ko and the Domyoji Sakura Mochi is characterized by the distinctive combination of the chewy, granular dough and the stickiness of each rice grain.
This type is widely enjoyed around the country, and when Japanese people just say “Sakura Mochi” in daily life, in most cases, that refers to the Domyoji Sakura Mochi.
Chomeiji Mochi (長命寺餅)
On the other hand, Chomeiji Mochi is a type of Sakura Mochi that originated in an old Buddhist temple located in Mukojima, Tokyo whose name is “Chomeiji (長命寺)” (Google Map), which is why this type is called Chomeiji Mochi.
Chomeiji Sakura Mochi is commonly eaten in the Kanto region around Tokyo. Unlike Domyoji Mochi, the thin outer covering (dough) of this Kanto-style is made by baking a mixture of wheat flour, glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water.
Although the first ingredient is wheat flour, the name of this confection includes the word “Mochi (餅: rice cake)”. Incidentally, the filling for Chomeiji Mochi is the same as that of Domyoji Mochi, that is, sweet red bean paste or “Anko (餡子)”.
Whether Sakura Mochi’s cherry tree leaves are edible or not
Many Japanese, including me, eat Sakura Mochi’s cherry tree leaf since it is usually pickled in salt. The edible cherry leaf is tender except for the vein and somewhat salty, so I think it is easy to eat.
Despite that, some Japanese don’t eat the salted leaf and only enjoy its herby fragrance. In a nutshell, the eating manner of Sakura Mochi varies depending on each person and the shop.
As a matter of fact, to make the cake itself fragrant and prevent it from getting dry, a pickled cherry leaf is used as a wrapper for Sakura Mochi.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 桜餅)