Japan’s Season Of Culinary Death Is Almost Over; Goodbye And Thanks For All The Mochi

Every country celebrates the holidays in their own way: Americans decorate Christmas trees, Germans drink Glühwein (mulled wine) and the Japanese make and consume rice cakes (mochi). Last year at the close of December, Japan’s largest organised crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi even had the local neighbours over for their annual rice-making event in Kobe– while the police watched to make sure there was no trouble. However, these glutinous sweet rice cakes turn out to be much more deadly than Japan’s gun-shy mafia. In order to avoid more people choking to death on mochi this year, Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency had issued a stern warning for the general public to chew over, urging caution in consumption of these holiday staples.

The worst way to start the New Year is choking to death on rice-cakes (餅) consumed to celebrate the New Year.

Mochi are a glutinous Japanese specialty, often turned into a dessert, made from pounded steamed rice that Japanese usually eat to celebrate the coming New Year and other festive occassions. The rice cakes are very chewy and sticky, like hot taffy; people can choke to death on them. In Tokyo alone, within the last five years, excluding this year, 542 people had to be given emergency treatment by the Tokyo Fire Department due to mochi related injuries. 35 were already ready dead by the time the ambulances arrived according to reports.

90% of the victims taken to the hospital were over 65.

Glühwein might give you a horrible hangover for the holidays but it won’t kill you, unlike Japanese holiday rice-cakes.

The Consumer Affairs Agency took a proactive measure this week and called for the public to cut up mochi into small pieces and thoroughly chew them before swallowing. This should help prevent people from choking on them. The agency also warned the …continue reading