Spring signals a lot of big changes in Japan, ranging from the start of a new fiscal year to students often having to adjust to new schools or even graduation. It’s also the season of sakura, the Japanese term for “cherry blossom.”
These magnificent trees bloom into gorgeous pink around late March and early April every year, lasting for only a couple of weeks but offering plenty of beauty while they are around.
Naturally, every element of Japanese society celebrates the fleeting gorgeousness of the country’s nation tree. That includes snack makers, especially more regional ones, creating special eats to match the pink-heavy period of the year.
The cherry blossom season arrives at different times in Japan based on location — the Western portion of the country tends to experience the pinkness a little early, like in mid to end of March, while the Tokyo area usually sees the blooming happen in early April (Hokkaido has to wait the longest).
Whenever those buds open up, people love to stroll underneath them and have hanami, a sort of picnic under the sakura with friends and family. There’s also added metaphorical weight to cherry blossom season — they represent the transient nature of life itself, and the fact they arrive at the same time so many people change jobs or schools has turned them into a emotional representation of existence itself.
Heavy stuff — but it can also result in some plain-tasty snacks, which is where we are at today.
In Tabi April Box, we have curated the most authentic Japanese sakura snacks from regional makers that you won't be able to find anywhere else!
Sakura flavor and packaging becomes common as early as February in Japan, as food and drink manufacturers look to capitalize on the public’s anticipation for the cherry blossoms. This goes for many smaller snackmakers scattered across the country, who often find clever angles to capture the feel and taste of the country’s most famous flower.
This month’s edition of the Tabi Box celebrates all things pink and local, highlighting tasty sakura-themed treats from creators all over the archipelago.
The easiest way to make one’s product stand out during the spring season is to go heavy on the sakura packaging — think a lot of pink and white, a lot of leaves — or bring that same aesthetic to the food itself. This month’s Tabi Box spotlights a few creative twists on this approach.
Kyoto / Kyo Neko-San Cookies
Kyo Neko-San Cookies from a local maker, Maitoco, in Kyoto look like felines, but for this month they have been decorated with flower designs to make them fitting for the season.
A refreshing and simple cookie that is delightful to the taste. The striped pattern cat cookie has a black sesame flavor, and the floral and seasonal patterns have a plain flavor.
Tokyo / Feve Cashew x Sakura
Bean-centric sweet maker Feve Cashew adds a touch of sakura flavor by sakura leaf powder to their limited-edition crispy spotlight, but it also comes in a magnificent packaging featuring the tree right on the front. Paired with sweet and sour dried cranberries, this snack perfectly represents the spring in Japan.
Want to taste these pink vibe treats? Subscribe to Tabi Sakura Box by 3/31.
Taste And Smell Combined
Sight isn’t the only sense that can be tickled by a cherry-blossom-themed treat. Flavor can also be adjusted — sakura tends to be a sweet cherry type taste, ideal for dessert items, though certainly not limited to just the sweet side of the spectrum.
Aomori / Rageneau Aomori Apple Custard Cake Sakura Flavor
In this month’s Tabi Box, a few of the sakura-flavored highlights include Aomori brand Ragueneau adding a blast of cherry blossom to their famous apple cake.
The 136-year-old Aomori brand Ragueneau has won many gold awards at the Japan National Confectionery Fair. This time they bring you their famous apple cake in cherry blossom flavor! A limited fluffy sakura-colored cake with a jelly center that contains sakura leaves in a smooth custard cream.
Fukuoka / Ishimura Manseido Sakura Marshmallow
Fukuoka 115-year-old sweet shop Ishimura has added the scent of the famous foliage to their trademark marshmallow.
This limited delicious fluffy and chewy marshamllow uses cherry blossom flavor and scent. Inside you will find a milky and rich taste of white chocolate that is creamy and sweet!
Read more about Ishimura Manseido story & history by clicking here.
Nagano / Sakura Daifuku Mini Mochi
Perhaps the most extreme take on this comes from Todaya, a Nagano Prefecture producer of sweets, which takes a small Japanese daifuku and wraps it in multiple layers of sakura taste.
Daifuku is a Japanese confection consisting of a round mochi with sweet bean paste. They use sakura in the pean paste, and finally wrapped in sakura flavored mochi by kneading in the sakura leaf powder. The flavor of cherry blossoms is fully packed in this mini mochi sweet.
Aichi / Shrimp Cracker Sakura
While sweets might be the best way to highlight the cherry blossom, it isn’t the only one. One of the last inclusions in the Tabi Box is sakura-flavored shrimp crackers, which highlights the range this flavor has.
Don't forget to subscribe to Tabi Sakura Box by 3/31 to taste these authentic Japanese sakura snacks.
Transient Season, Long-lasting Flavor
Cherry blossom season might be a short-lived period of time representing the quickness of life itself, and these limited-edition food items might only be around a little bit, but the taste will stick with you for a long time!
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