You may have seen the iconic Japanese fruit sandwiches on social media before, but have you ever seen fruit daifuku? The beautiful appearance of the fruits inside these round, sweet treats has made them the star of countless Instagram posts, accelerating their surge in popularity.
History of Fruit Daifuku
Daifuku is a traditional Japanese confectionery first produced in the 18th century. These traditional daifuku did not contain fruit but sweet bean paste (anko) wrapped in mochi. However, in the 1980s, daifuku containing whole strawberries began to appear in confectionary showcases.
Since then, strawberry daifuku (ichigo daifuku) have become one of the most coveted sweets in Japan. Due to their popularity, many kinds of fruit daifuku have been produced over the last two or three years, leading to what can only be described as a "daifuku craze."
Types of Fruit Daifuku
Now, seasonal varieties of fruit daifuku are available, allowing you to enjoy eating seasonal fruits in a novel way. For this new type of daifuku, fresh cream or a sweeter mochi often serves as a filling rather than a sweet bean paste.
While there is a greater variety of daifuku than ever before, the availability of certain fruits depends on the season, so I'd like to highlight one of the most popular daifuku commonly available for each time of the year.
Spring: Strawberry Daifuku
Strawberry daifuku originally contained a sweet bean paste or white bean paste, but these days there are a greater variety of fillings. Some only contain a strawberry coated in a sweet mochi or are filled with cream instead of bean paste. The overall taste is sweet and slightly tangy, although the level of sweetness varies depending on the filling. Those filled with bean paste are a bit more savory, complimenting the other sweet ingredients.
Summer: Kiwi Daifuku
Among the abundance of summer fruit mochi, including mango, pineapple, and melon, kiwi daifuku stands out as one of the most popular. The tangy taste of the kiwi paired with the sweet mochi is a novelty flavor among Japanese sweets.
Fall: Muscat Grape Daifuku
Japanese Muscat grapes have a distinctly sweet, floral, and musky flavor that tastes great when served fresh. Since they are generally seedless, they make a perfect daifuku ingredient.
Winter: Mandarin Orange Daifuku
Of the many types of oranges around the world, the mandarin oranges most popular in Japan are some of the sweetest. Daifuku with a mandarin orange filling are likewise extremely sweet and make for a nice dessert around the winter holidays.
Fruit daifuku are delicious to simply eat and enjoy on their own, but one of the treats' charms for many people is their visual appeal. A big trend on social media has been to delicately cut the daifuku with a thread to show the fruits inside and take colorful pictures of the confections. Especially in the summer when fruit is most plentiful, it's common to see people lined up outside the fruit daifuku shops, waiting to take home one of the cool treats.
About the author:
Jessica Craven is a writer, artist, and designer passionate about introducing aspects of Japanese culture to English-speaking audiences. Previously, she studied Japanese traditional art forms and Japanese art history at Akita International University, worked in art museums and galleries in the United States, and returned to Japan to work in Saitama for five years on the JET Program. She is fascinated by how traditional Japanese art forms, like tea ceremony, are also closely related to philosophy and health. She currently lives in Tokyo, where she is continuing her writing career.