The most beautiful time of the year is near in Japan - during spring, the beautiful cherry tree blossoms know as sakura turn into a sea of pink. This year we will see cherry blossom season arriving earlier than usual in Tokyo. This is all down to the weather: a combination of high temperatures in autumn and winter, as well as warm and sunny weather in spring.
Not only are the cherry blossoms beautiful to see, the season also brings with it many special sakura foods to enjoy. For cherry blossom viewing (hanami), various shops have limited edition sakura inspired food items each year. Here are some of must-try sakura foods and some iconic ones to try. Enjoy!
Sakuracha (Sakura Tea)
Literally "cherry blossom tea", sakuracha is a Japanese infusion that is unlike any other. Sakura flowers are mixed with ume (Japanese plum) vinegar and salt, and is left to infuse for 3-4 weeks. Sakura tea is considered very special in Japan and is mostly served at weddings, as it is believed to represent new beginnings.
Along with the sakuracha, Japanese Sakura sake is another popular seasonal drink. Each bottle comes with a whole sakura flower – perfectly preserved in full bloom. And if a whole sakura flower isn’t enough for you, how about one with gold flakes floating around for the ultimate luxury drinking experience? These bottles of sakura sake are almost too beautiful to drink!
Pink soba noodles! By mixing sakura and powdered leaves into a quality soba (buckwheat) dough, Japan is serving lovely pink soba noodles. The spring menu of Sakura soba noodle dishes captures the fragile and fleeting essence of this radiant pink blossom. You can find the noodles served hot and cold, with any combination of shrimp, meat or vegetables.
Sakura mochi is an all time favorite dessert for sakura season. If you want to have the full hanami experience you must try this chewy pounded glutinous rice known as mochi with sakura and a sweet red bean paste filling. It's simply delectable!
Is there anything more "kawaii"? Hanami Dango is an iconic tri-color sweet for cherry blossom viewing in Japan. The dango consists of a kind of chopped dough, or dumpling, which is made with glutinous rice flour (mochi-ko), and has a sticky texture and sweet taste. They're the perfect festive treat!
Hanami is one of the most anticipated celebrations in Japan. We hope you enjoy sakura season by not only by viewing but also tasting the unique flavors that are only available this time of the year!