Sakura Coming Soon...Enjoy Sakura Sweets Too!
A special feature every spring is the arrival of the sakura—flowering cherry blossoms. Starting in the south, the blooms usually appear in Kyushu, Shikoku and other warm areas in mid-March, and just like a weather front, the sakura front moves northward until the last of the sakura bloom in Hokkaido in early May.
A special pleasure in spring is strolling beneath the flowering cherry trees or enjoying food and drink with friends under the trees’ spreading branches. Japanese eagerly await the flowering of the sakura every year. Almost just as eagerly, they look forward to enjoying colorful sakura-themed treats—from traditional wagashi Japanese sweets, to ice cream, cakes, chocolate and more—that delight both the eye and the palate and are available only at this time of year.
One of the best-known wagashi using sakura is sakura-mochi. This pink confection consists of a soft pounded rice cake or ball with a sweet bean paste filling, all wrapped in a salted cherry leaf, the saltiness of the cherry leaf heightening the delicate sweetness of the bean paste. Sakura-mochi are sold virtually everywhere in Japan throughout the spring season.
Another sweet that’s as beautiful to look at as cherry blossoms in full bloom is Shinjuku Takano’s Sakura Wasambon Roll (1,365 yen; available from March 1 to April 10 only). This Swiss roll-type sweet is a pale pink sponge cake with a cream filling that’s as delightful to the eye as it’s pleasing to the tongue. The delicate cherry flavor of this treat is sure to make your day more pleasant.
Many department store food halls organize fairs and special displays featuring sweets or foods with some connection to sakura, so make sure to drop in and take a look.
If you’d like to enjoy your sakura and your sweets together, pause for refreshment at a café surrounded by sakura. Roppongi’s Tokyo Midtown, a complex that includes a hotel, an art museum, shops and restaurants, operates the outdoor Sakura Café between March 19 and April 10. Sitting under the flowering cherry trees and enjoying a variety of sakura-related treats will definitely put you in the mood for spring.
So, for a springtime-only treat, enjoy the flowering cherry blossoms and the sweet pink treats that accompany them.
To check on when the sakura are likely to be blooming in your destination, click here.