Sakura Mochi Types: Domyoji Mochi and Chomeiji Mochi
The cherry blossom “Sakura (桜)” season is just around the corner here in Japan. When Japanese think of sweets for the Japanese tradition of viewing cherry blossoms “Hanami (花見)”, that reminds many of us of “Dango (団子)” rice dumplings.
However in addition to Dango, actually there is one more Japanese confection that shouldn’t be forgotten in the spring cherry blossom season, which is called “Sakura Mochi (桜餅)”.
Sakura Mochi (桜餅 : Cherry Blossom Rice Cake)
Sakura Mochi, literally cherry blossom rice cake, is a traditional Japanese confection with more than 300 years of history. It is a soft, chewy, sticky rice cake with a sweetened Azuki red bean paste filling.
As the name indicate, the Japanese cake has a beautiful pink color like the cherry blossom and is wrapped with a salted cherry tree leaf. This is why we associate this sweet rice cake with the Sakura (cherry blossom) season.
Domyoji Mochi (道明寺餅) and Chomeiji Mochi (長命寺餅)
Actually, the traditional Japanese confection, Sakura Mochi is broadly classified into two types, Domyoji Sakura Mochi and Chomeiji Sakura Mochi, often simply called Domyoji Mochi and Chomeiji Mochi.
For those who are interested in Sakura Mochi, here I will talk about how the two types are different from each other.
Domyoji Sakura Mochi (道明寺桜餅)
Domyoji Mochi is a type of Sakura Mochi that has its roots in the Kansai region around Osaka. This Kansai-style one is made from the rice powder called “Domyoji-Ko (道明寺粉)” that is made by coarsely grinding steamed dried glutinous rice.
Thus, the name of this Sakura Mochi is derived from its main ingredient Domyoji-Ko and Domyoji Mochi is characterized by the distinctive combination of the chewy, granular texture of its rice dough and the stickiness of each rice grain.
This type is widely produced and enjoyed around the country. When Japanese just say “Sakura Mochi”, in most cases that refers to the Domyoji Mochi rice cake.
Chomeiji Sakura Mochi (長命寺桜餅)
On the other hand, Chomeiji Mochi is a type of Sakura Mochi that originated in an old Japanese temple located in Mukojima, Tokyo whose name is “Chomeiji (長命寺)” (Google Map). From this, this type is called Chomeiji Mochi.
Chomeiji Sakura Mochi is commonly eaten in the Kanto region around Tokyo. The thin outer covering dough of this Kanto-style one is typically made by baking the mixture of wheat flour, a glutinous rice powder, sugar, and water.
Although its first ingredient is wheat flour, the name of this confection includes the word “Mochi (餅 : rice cake)”.
Whether Japanese eat Sakura Mochi’s cherry tree leaf or not
Many Japanese, including me, eat the cherry tree leaf used for Sakura Mochi, since it is pickled in salt. The edible cherry leaf is soft 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.
As a matter of fact, in order to make Sakura Mochi fragrant and prevent the cake from getting dried, it is said that the Japanese confection uses a salted cherry leaf as a wrapper.
In brief, there don’t exist formal eating manners of Sakura Mochi and the eating manner varies depending on the shop and each person.
(Reference page : Wikipedia 桜餅)