Spring is approaching.
One of the typical Japanese sweets that remind us of the coming of spring is “Sakura Mochi“.
When you hear the word “Sakura Mochi”, what kind of Japanese sweet comes to mind?
There are two types of “Sakura Mochi” in Japan.
The one on the left in the photo above is “Chomeiji Sakura Mochi” and the one on the right is “Domyoji Sakura Mochi.
Although they share the same characteristics in that they are both Japanese sweets made of red bean paste and salted cherry leaves, the main difference is the dough used to wrap them.
One is the “Chomeiji” Sakura Mochi, in which red bean paste is wrapped in a thin crepe-like crust made of dissolved flour, and the other is the “Domyoji” Sakura Mochi, in which red bean paste is wrapped in dough made of coarsely mashed mochi rice.
Which sakura mochi do you prefer?
History of “Chomeiji” Sakura Mochi
Sakura Mochi originated in Edo.
According to a confectionery document in Toraya, a long-established Japanese confectionery shop, it was first sold in the late Edo period using cherry leaves planted along the Sumida River, and became popular among cherry blossom viewers and spread throughout the country.
Yoshimune, the 8th shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1716-1745, ordered the planting of cherry trees along the Sumida River and Asukayama, creating one of Edo’s most famous cherry blossom viewing spots.
The gatekeeper of Chomeiji temple near this Sumida-Zutsumi gathered cherry leaves, pickled them in salt, wrapped them in a rice cake filled with red bean paste, and sold it at a tea store in 1717.
This was the beginning of “Sakura Mochi”.
Chomeiji Sakura Mochi became very popular because of its location at a famous cherry blossom viewing spot.
This gatekeeper was later the owner of Yamamoto-ya, which is still famous today as an old shop for Chomeiji Sakura Mochi.
Sakura Mochi spread as a Sumida River specialty in the late Edo period (1603-1868) and later spread to the Kansai region.
History of Domyoji Sakura Mochi
The sakura mochi that became popular in Edo (Tokyo) was imitated and made in many places, but they were not the same everywhere, and gradually the dough using ”Domyoji Flour” became the mainstream in Kansai.
Domyoji Flour is made by steaming glutinous rice in water, drying it, and then coarsely grinding it.
The name “Domyoji Flour” comes from the famous dried rice used to make hoshii (dried boiled rice) at Domyoji in Fujiidera City, Osaka Prefecture, which was used as a preserved food.
The Chinese character “糒” is a difficult one to write, but the combination of “rice” and “prepare” makes it easy to remember.
Domyoji Sakura Mochi was first sold around 1897 by a Kyoto resident named Okumura Matabee as “Saga Meibutsu Sakura Mochi” (cherry blossom cake).
Saga is home to Arashiyama, a famous cherry blossom viewing spot, and just like Sumida River in Edo, cherry blossom cakes were probably a favorite for cherry blossom viewing.
Which is the mainstream sakura mochi in different parts of Japan?
You have found that nationwide, there are two types of sakura mochi: Chomeiji and Domyoji.
So, which is more popular in each prefecture?
The results are as follows.
In the Kanto region, Chomeiji is the most popular temple, but Domyouji seems to be well-liked as well.
On the other hand, in Kansai and Kyushu, Domyoji seems to be the mainstream, accounting for about 54% of the national total.
By the way, my favorite is the Domyoji one.
Toraya, an old Japanese confectionery shop in Tokyo
Both Chomeiji and Domyoji are available at Toraya.
Toraya was founded in Kyoto in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and became a confectionery business under imperial warrant after it offered Japanese confectioneries to the emperor.
It has a history of about 500 years, but moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in the Meiji era (1868-1912).
Especially, it is widely known as “Toraya’s Yokan”, isn’t it?
At the Akasaka branch, which has a store across from the Akasaka Gosho, to my surprise, both Chomeiji Sakura Mochi and Domyoji Sakura Mochi are available for purchase.
We called and inquired about it, but if you want to buy both sakura mochi, please pay attention to the date.
Sales period (tentative)
Chomeiji Sakura Mochi: From Saturday, February 25, 2023 to Monday, April 10, 2023
Domyoji Sakura Mochi: From Saturday, March 25, 2023 to Thursday, April 20, 2023
In other words, if you want to buy both types of sakura mochi, you have 17 days from Saturday, March 25 to Monday, April 10, 2023 to do so!
Narumi Mochi Honten, a long-established Japanese confectionery store in Kyoto
Domyoji Sakura Mochi is available at Narumi Mochi Honten.
Founded in 1875, it celebrates its 145th anniversary this year.
Narumi Mochi began when Yone Narumi and her three daughters opened a small store.
Today, the store is popular for its Japanese-style confections made with ingredients carefully selected according to Kyoto’s seasonal specialties.
There is an eat-in space inside the store where customers can eat their purchases or order confections on the spot.
How was it?
Both Chomeiji and Domyoji cherry blossom rice cakes are often made with cherry blossom colored powder, giving them a beautiful cherry blossom color and a distinctive cherry blossom leaf aroma.
There are many stores all over Japan that specialize in Sakura Mochi.
“Sakura Mochi” is also often used as a seasonal word for spring, so when sakura mochi goes on sale, you can feel the arrival of spring in earnest.
Let’s enjoy Japanese spring season!!!