Wash the mochi rice, soak in plenty of water for about 2 hours, drain and mash the rice roughly with your fingers.
Soak the sakura leaves (not listed) for 10 minutes to remove the salt.
Put the rice and necessary water into a heatproof container. Mix the food colouring with a bit of water and add to the container.
Cover with something like plastic wrap, cook for 10 minutes in the microwave (500w), then mix with a rice spatula. Cover again to cook for 5 more minutes, then leave it to steam for 5 minutes.
Divide the red bean paste into 16 portions and roll each of them into balls.
Add the sugar into Step 4's rice and mix well. Then divide into 16 portions.
Spread the rice on the plastic wrap, place the red bean paste in the centre, wrap the an bean paste completely up inside, and shape into a ball.
Wrap a sakura leaf around the mochi. (The saltiness gives it a distinct taste.)
Story Behind this Recipe
I originally got this recipe from my step-mother and it required starting your preparation the night before by soaking the steamed glutinous rice in sugar water overnight. It was a bother to make, so I checked easier recipes on the internet and referenced those when coming up with this recipe.
If you cannot find cherry blossom leaves, you can get them on the internet. Cuoca, http://www.cuoca.com/ Tomizawa, http://shop.tomizawa.co.jp/ They can also be frozen.