Authorities appeal to elderly to be careful when eating 'mochi'


The National Police Agency and the Fire and Disaster Management Agency on Tuesday appealed to elderly people to be careful when eating “mochi” rice cakes during the New Year holidays.

The cakes, a traditional New Year’s food, cause choking incidents among elderly people every year. Authorities appealed to people across Japan to cut up their “mochi” into small chunks and to eat it with great care, and in the presence of someone else.

This year on New Year’s Day, emergency services in Tokyo took 15 elderly people to hospital after they choked on the “mochi.” Two of them died.

Japan Today

  • 4


    Happens every year. Both the numerous deaths, as well as 'appeals' from the 'Fire and Disaster Management Agency'. Unfortunately, the old people are mostly just too stubborn to listen to the warnings (and god forbid they go without their beloved traditional lump of pounded rice)

  • -12

    Knox Harrington

    Better yet - stop producing this horrible stuff. Ban it. Outlaw it. Mochi is the archetypical Japanese stubbornness showing itself. Old food, no longer serving any real purpose (as opposed to old times when food was scarce), served in the name of 'tradition'. Glutionous, white rice, pouded together to essentially become concentrated rice, a stomach filler as good as any.

  • 5


    I'm not much for government banning anything and everything that might harm us. I don't need interference in me New Year's dinner, thank you very much. I last had a baby sitter when I was 11.

  • 7


    Better yet - stop producing this horrible stuff. Ban it. Outlaw it.

    Please don't. We don't need a nanny state. If people want to eat it at risk to their own life, let them. It's natural selection. Keep the government out of it.

  • 7

    Ken Kitsune

    lol knox if you were to ban mochi for that reason, then you should fight to ban all junkfoods and soft drinks and all except water and food that we really need. Where did you get your logic? I love mochi!

  • 3


    Another way to word this article is: "Of the approximately 30 million elderly people in Japan, this year 15 of them had serious trouble eating New Year's mochi. .000000008% of Japan's elderly population found New Year's mochi to be lethal. So it's probably not a big deal, just, you know, be smart about it."

  • 2


    Mochi is good stuff. I have to be careful not to become a statistic on the foreign side. Don't know if they keep track of that or if any foreigners have died from eating it. Keep the vacuum cleaner close by!

  • 2


    This happens EVERY year, and every year there are at least 10 deaths of people who refuse to listen. I predict the same this time around.

  • 1


    The mochi choking happens every year, look forward to the usual reports. It is like local tradition...
    of course there is nothing wrong with mochi, just be sensible when eating it.

  • 0

    Bartholomew Harte

    Mochi & Zen-Zai are eaten every New Year & last year my wife, the Human Vacuum,got a piece stuck in her throat ! maybe these Ojisans don't bother to chew or swallow big pieces.The missus is fine,thank you, Heimlich!

  • -1


    That stuff is popular with Koreans, too. My first experience was "elastic", to best describe it, something like a tasty rubber ball! So, I took a smaller bite, bite, bite until a piece that I could chew finally came off. If she had a camera, this scene would have made it to You Tube. Well, I'm older now, so I guess I better be careful.

  • 1


    Everyone knows eating mochi kills some people every year but thinks that will never happen to him/her.

  • -4


    Never ate it, never will. Foul, revolting stuff!

  • -2


    I love mochi!

    Me too! We buy organic brown rice o-mochi, very tasty and much nicer than the white stuff. The cheap mochi they sell in bags in the supermarkets is machine-made and pretty tasteless; if you want the good stuff, either pound it yourself or buy it from a rice shop that pounds by hand.

  • 0

    Mirai Hayashi

    They just need to start making more smaller or soluble mochi for order people and young kids, and people need to slow down and chew their food better.

  • -1


    The news items about the elderly choking on omochi are as traditional as the pounding of omochi in wooden vats with wooden mallets. I recall with comic nostalgia being an undergraduate sociology student in Tokyo 44 years ago and one of us used the term "group" that had the then-colloquial meaning of "many" when he said, "Every year a group of Japanese old people choke to death on mochi." But the others in our cluster took the word "group" at its real sociological meaning and gasped, "You mean a large number of Japanese old people all get together in a shiminkaikan and as a group choke to death on mochi?!!"

  • -2


    Mirai: That would be too common sense. But then, cutting a large piece into smaller pieces is perfectly common sense, and yet people REFUSE to do it! It's baffling, and obviously stupid.

    Two confirmed dead so far today by choking on mochi, by the way.

  • 0


    This is not the fault of the government neither the mistake of Mochi makers. It's just that one should be careful while eating eat since the size is a little big, one should first cut it into the pieces and enjoy it. It's a tradition of Japan and should not be embarrassed by people just because some incidents happen. My thoughts with the family of the people who died. Rest in peace.

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