It seems that as the beginning of April begins, the entire nation is infected with sakura fever. Not only do crowds of people gather and check out the short-lived blooming of the sakura (cherry blossoms), but restaurants and stories alike are also affected by the cherry blossom fever. There are seasonal specialty foods that are sold for a limited time to celebrate the special and short-lived seasonal occasion. The following items are things you will only find in Japan for a limited time so if you ever spot any of them, get into a festive mood and give them a try!
Sakura Haagen Dazs
Haagen Dazs in Japan has built a reputation on creating flavors that go beyond the standard vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. They are very much in tune with seasonality, as is much of Japan. During the autumn, you will often find pumpkin and purple sweet potato flavored ice cream, while other peculiar flavors include Japonais (green tea and red bean ice cream), Foret Noire (Blackforest) and Tropical Cream Cheese. During the Hanami season of course, there is a Sakura flavor that comes in the standard cup as well as a crispy sandwhich in a wafer and sakura chocolate. You will often be able to find these at standard convenient stores like 7-11 and Family Mart.
One of the quintessential items during the hanami season is sakura mocha. Unlike the rest of the items on this list that are modern-day intreprerations of the hanami season, this Japanese confectionary has been around for hundreds of years and is deeply entrenched in the Japanese food culture. It is a sweet pink mochi (rice cake) and red bean paste, covered with a leaf of sakura (cherry blossom) that is edible. Depending on the region that you are in (Kansai or Tokyo), the type of sakura mocha you are likely to find at the festivals will differ.
Mcdonald’s Sakura Teriyaki Egg Burger
Out of all of the sakura-inspired items that are sold during the season, this is by far the most unique one of them all. McDonald’s has taken the standard teriyaki and egg burger and fused it with pink, sakura-inspired elements that complete the burger. A pink cake-like bun is used to envelope the teriyaki and egg, while a sakura-radish mayo is included inside of the burger. While I cannot vouch for the taste, this is definitely one worth trying just to tell everyone about the “unique” food you tried during your vacation.
Starbucks Japan Sakura Chocolate Latte/Sakura Chiffon Cake
Regardless of the time of year, you can bet that Starbucks has some sort of special limited edition product available depending on the month. Even without hearing about it, you could almost have a guarantee that Starbuck’s would be offering some sakura-inspired items. This year, they have on offer a caffeinated Sakura Chocolate Latte as well as Sakura chiffon cake to get you in the mood for the cherry blossom season.
Sakura Inari Sushi
For a more traditional culinary interpretation of the cherry blossom season, you should try Sakuras Inari Sushi. You should be able to find these, along with the traditional bento boxes, at the basement floor of department stories such as Sogo and Daimaru all throughout Japan. They are essentially deep fried tofu pockets that are sweetened and stuffed with sushi rice. During the hanami season, you will of course find the sushi to have a sakura flavor infused into the sushi rice.
Sakura Anpan Bread (Sweet Bean Paste Bread)
Anpan is a type of sweet bread that you will be able to find all year round at most bakeries around Japan. On the exterior is a sweet milk-based bread with a sweet bean paste filling. During the hanami season, this standard bread metamorphasizes into a sakura bread, with the filling a sakura-flavored white sweet-bean paste with an actual sakura blossom at the very top of the bread.
We've prepared 2 different cherry blossom (sakura) walking tours to help you get the most out of this beautiful yet short-lived season. Both tours can be completely in just two days!! So take the time to stop and appreciate the beauty and fragility of the Japanese cherry blossom.
1.Old Tokyo Sakura Tour is operated on only 7th April.
2.Sakura Night Illumination Tour is operated on only 4th, 6th, 9th April.