Daifuku is a widely popular type of Japanese confection consisting mainly of an outer layer of mochi (gelatinous rice paste) with an anko (sweet bean paste) filling. The result is a mildly sweet treat with a comfortably smooth texture.

There are many variations of daifuku including ichigo daifuku containing a whole strawberry inside of the mochi and anko, which have become hugely popular all around Japan. However, do you know where this trend started?

Our hungry reporter Mr. Sato does, and he went down to the first store ever to sell ichigo daifuku, Tamaya, to try their wares himself. He found that not only are they the original, but they may just make best ichigo daifuku in all of Japan.

Although regular daifuku can be traced back over 200 years, ichigo daifuku is relatively new. The third generation president of Tamaya, Wahei Osumi came up with the idea to put a strawberry inside a daifuku back in 1985. Although a novel idea, they didn’t expect it to sell well off the bat.

However, seemingly overnight, people were craving the great taste of mochi, anko, and strawberry and buying them as fast as Tamaya could make them. Not only that but other daifuku makers began to follow suit and put strawberries inside their own creations. Thus the great ichigo daifuku boom of the 80s was in effect all over Japan.

Now, nearly three decades since its creation, Mr. Sato went down to the Osumi Tamaya store in Yotsuya to see if their goods still hold up. His expectations weren’t terribly high, though, as ichigo daifuku is a rather basic snack. Sure slight differences in texture and taste can be made but overall the fatal flaw of ichigo daifuku is the overpowering taste of the strawberry.

Anko and mochi both have very subtle flavors which are simply no match for the highly acidic tanginess of strawberry. As a result you’re left with a strawberry which has a sweet, gooey coating. That’s not bad at all, but it kind of destroys the essence of the daifuku.

Tamaya seemed to have realized this as well and made steps to fix it. Mr. Sato found that their ichigo daifuku managed to balance out the combination of strawberry and anko. By making their sweet bean paste a little bolder in flavor it takes center strange and places the strawberry firmly back in the supporting role where it belongs. Simply by eating it Mr. Sato could get the feeling that this was created by the originator of the ichigo daifuku.

Although their shops are limited to Yotsuya, Ginza, and Shinjuku, Tamaya’s ichigo daifuku can also be found in department stores. So if you happen to spot some don’t hesitate to pick them up for an exquisite daifuku experience.

Store Information
Osumi Tamaya, Yotsuya Store
3-6 Yotsuya, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00am – 7:30pm

Original article by Mr. Sato
Photos: RocketNews24

The original ichigo daifuku

Other creations include Tora-san No Banana, a tiger-striped cake with a banana filling

And the seasonal Coffee Roll

[ Read in Japanese ]