7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!

Mochi is a rice cake made of pounded rice. It is a traditional food that we have been consuming from long time ago in Japan. It comes in various forms: square, round, etc. Throughout the Japanese history, it used be a ceremonial food that we ate in special occasions. Even now, we eat it during the New Year’s holiday, which is one of the most important events in Japan. Since we eat mochi many times during January, we consume it in various forms. It can be cooked as a dish or as a dessert. In this article, I will tell you how Japanese people enjoy mochi during the New Year’s holiday and throughout the year.



 

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!

 

1. A special New Year’s Ceremony: Mochitsuki

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!mochitsuki

Mochitsuki is a very important ceremony of making mochi before the New Year arrives. Mochi is indispensable food for the New Year in Japan. Between 26th to 30th of December, we make mochi by pounding special mochi rice in a large bowl, called usu. For pounding, we use kine that looks like a hammer. Because the hammer is very heavy, men usually pound the rice. Meanwhile women shift the rice with their hands for it will be pounded evenly. After mochi is well-pounded, it is separated into small portions to be consumed. It’s very impressing to see how men pound mochi so dynamically.

 

2. A New Year’s decoration: Kagami mochi

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!kagamimochi

One of the special New Year’s decoration is called Kagami mochi. It’s made of plate-sized round mochi and a bit smaller one on the top. It is usually placed in the alcove of Japanese style room, called tokonoma. We decorate this mochi as an offering to the deities. It is decorated until January 11th, when we can finally eat it. We call this ceremony, Kagami biraki. It’s actually considered bad luck to cut this mochi with knife. We usually crack it with hands or with a hammer.

 

3. A New Year’s soup: Zoni

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!zoni

Zoni is a soup with mochi inside that is a typical dish that we eat at the breakfast on January 1st. Inside the soup, there are chicken, vegetables, kamaboko (fish cake) and flakes of yuzu peel, etc. We cook zoni in different ways depending on the region. In Kanto region where Tokyo is situated, for example, we use square shaped mochi in zoni. In Kansai where Osaka and Kyoto is, on the other hand, round shaped mochi is used. The taste of soup also varies depending on the regions of Japan.

 

4. Kinako mochi

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!kinakomochi

Zoni isn’t the only dish with mochi in it. We also eat mochi with kinako, which is roasted soy bean flour and sugar. It has sweet and a bit salty taste. It is said to bring luck if we eat it during the New Year’s holiday. Because it is important for us to eat mochi for the New Year celebration, we enjoy it in different ways.

 

5. Mochi for dessert: Oshiruko

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!oshiruko

As I told you earlier, we also eat mochi for dessert as well. In fact, oshiruko is a typical dessert made of mochi. It’s an Azuki bean based soup with mochi inside. It is also one of the food that we enjoy during the New Year’s holiday. Since mochi doesn’t have much taste, it goes really well with sweet porridge of azuki beans.

 

6. Everyday mochi dessert: Daifuku

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!daifuku

Daifuku is a Japanese dessert made of mochi that we enjoy outside of the New Year’s holiday. The name Daifuku literally means “good luck.” Daifuku is made of soft mochi covering azuki red bean paste. In fact, there are variation of daifuku now available in Japan. Ichigo daifuku contains a strawberry inside with azuki red bean. Kusa mochi is mochi mixed with mugwort. Recently there are also coffee flavoured daifuku or Mont Blanc flavoured daifuku as well.

 

7. Popular mochi dessert: Dango

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!dango

Dango is a sweet dumpling made of mochi. It is usually served on a skewer. It is one of the popular desserts that we often eat in Japan. Dango comes in many different tastes: azuki bean paste, soy sauce and kinako, etc. There is even a proverb that says, “Hana yori dango” which translates into “dango rather than flowers.” It means that we rather receive tasty dango than beautiful flowers. That’s how much we love dango from the old days.

 

Conclusion

Mochi has been a special food in Japan. It is also a very typical food in Japan that I recommend you to try. There are many ways to enjoy mochi in different flavours. You can try it as a dish or as a dessert. In fact, it is very easy to find food made of mochi in Japan. Mochi also has a reputation as the cause of accidents among seniors. Many old people choke while eating mochi in Japan. Therefore please be careful to chew well when you enjoy the delicious mochi.

 

7 Traditional Ways to Eat Mochi in Japan!

1. A special New Year’s Ceremony: Mochitsuki
2. A New Year’s decoration: Kagami mochi
3. A New Year’s soup: Zoni
4. Kinako mochi
5. Mochi for dessert: Oshiruko
6. Everyday mochi dessert: Daifuku
7. Popular mochi dessert: Dango