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Mochi is Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice, and sometimes other ingredients such as water, sugar, and cornstarch. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape.

A piece of mochi about the size of a small matchbox is about the equivalent of eating an entire bowl of rice. This made it a popular meal amongst Samurai, as they had to find portable food that could keep them satiated for long periods of time.

To this day, mochi is a central part of the Japanese New Year celebration, and has been since the year 794. Mochi is regularly sold and consumed around the New Year and is known as a “sign of the season” in Japan. Different types of mochi have represented different things over the the history of mochi. Because mochi was symbolically linked to good fortune, the aristocratic class consumed it regularly.

Due to the super sticky nature of the snack, mochi injuries are usually caused by choking and suffocation. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible, but it’s the older folk that suffer the most.

Mochi should be cut up into small pieces and chew slowly and carefully before swallowing.