The petals may have dropped from the cherry trees, at least in the Tokyo area, but there are plenty of leaves to be seen — and not just on the trees. Look around any shop selling traditional wagashi sweets at this time of year and you'll find cherry leaves in evidence, wrapped around sakura-mochi.

Nibbling on these pink-tinged confections is one of the classic rites of spring. It's easy to identify them by the salt-preserved cherry leaves wrapped around the outside. But, as so often in Japan, there is an east-west divide on what's supposed to go inside.

In Kansai in the west, small dumplings are formed from steamed dōmyōjiko (sticky mochi rice flour) stuffed with red-bean jam. The eastern, Kanto style, by contrast, calls for the core of smooth sweet-bean paste to be folded inside a miniature pancake made of shiratamako, another kind of mochi rice flour. That is the kind you'll find at Toraya.