Sakuramochi is a variety of wagashi, or Japanese confectionery, covered with a leaf of sakura (Japanese flowering cherry). They consist of a pink-colored mochi (rice cake) containing red bean paste, which is covered with a sakura leaf that has been pickled in salt.
There are two types of sakuramochi: Edo-fu (Tokyo style) and Kamigata-fu (Kansai style), each of which are made differently.
Domyoji mochi (Kamigata-fu sakuramochi):
A skin made from domyojiko consisting of glutinous rice which has been steamed, dried then coarsely ground is wrapped around red bean paste like daifuku mochi.
Generally both types are wrapped in a sakura leaf and have a pink skin representing the color of sakura petals. In the Kanto area and Sanin region, the former type is simply called 'sakuramochi', while it is the latter type that is referred to as 'sakuramochi' in areas west of the Kinki region, in Hokkaido and in the Hokuriku area. Conversely, the former type is known as 'Chomeiji mochi' mainly in the Kinki region, while the latter is known as 'Domyoji' or Domyoji mochi' mainly in the Kanto region. There are also cases in which they are treated as a different variety of mochi.
In some areas, both types are called 'sakuramochi.'
When sakuramochi is made at home on a small scale, regardless of its origins, it is sometimes made using uncolored glutinous that has been hard boiled. Also, because Domyojiko is relatively expensive, the Kamigata style is often more expensive than Edo style made from wheat flour.
It is said that Edo style sakuramochi dates back to 1717 when Yoshimune TOKUGAWA, the eighth seii taishogun (literally, great general who subdues the barbarians) of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) planted cherry trees on the bank of Sumida-gawa River. At that time Shinroku YAMAMOTO, the gate keeper of Chomei-ji Temple in Mukojima, Sumida Ward, Tokyo started making and selling sakuramochi using the cherry leaves taken from the cherry trees planted on the bank of Sumida-gawa River.
The leaves used are those of the Oshima cherry (Prunus speciosa), which are soft and have few hairs, which have been salted. 70% of all of these salted sakura leaves in Japan are produced in Matsuzaki-cho on the Izu Peninsula. The distinctive aroma of sakuramochi comes from coumarin, a fragrant compound contained in the salted leaves. Sakuramochi can be eaten with or without the sakura leaf. However, as coumarin is hepatotoxic and not recognized as a food additive, care should be taken not to consume excess quantities of these salted leaves despite their delicious taste.
Due to the balance between the size of the mochi and its appearance, there is a tendency to use larger leaves in the Kanto region and smaller leaves in the Kinki region.
Artificial plastic leaves came into use during the 1970s.