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2 elderly people die, 4 taken to hospital after choking on mochi in Tokyo


Two women in their 80s died, while four other people aged between 88 and 100 were taken to hospital Saturday after they all choked on mochi, police and fire department officials said Sunday.

One of the women, 88, choked on the mochi at her home at around 8 a.m. and was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Each year before the New Year holidays, the National Police Agency and the Fire and Disaster Management Agency urge elderly people to be careful when eating the sticky mochi rice cakes. Authorities have advised people to cut up their mochi into small chunks and to eat it with great care, and in the presence of someone else.

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Again in Japan, tradition trumping common sense.

14 ( +19 / -5 )

Same thing every year-I steer clear of mochi…

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Wow. They'd really rather court death than to abide by common sense huh? Mochi is hard enough to chew when you have all your real teeth; I can't even begin imagining trying eat mochi with dentures or lack of teeth.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Didn't they JUST have an article on JT about this or something?

Someone was telling the elderly to not eat mochi?

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Only two people died? It’s usually a dozen or more. I guess people are finally starting to get message and heed the warnings.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

I guess they weren't reading JT's article the other day warning about this. Better luck next time.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Is there a mochi clause in Japanese life insurance?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Yes Osaka_Doug, I stood over my elderly relatives with a pair of tongs.

They wolf it down. They really do.

Of course I check their last will and testament to make sure I inherit all there worldly goods before reaching for the tongs.

Kidding!!! English sense of humor honestly.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

itsonlyrocknroll, sad you need to explain it and still get down voted.

Why oh why if it is so patently lethal do they insist on eating it every year? Is it so wonderfully flavoured as to be irresistible? Certainly doesn’t sound like it from the description, more like a cross between rice chewing gum and rubberised super glue?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

They need to put an age limit on that stuff.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

englisc aspyrgend, very true....

Delicious but deadly mochi: The Japanese rice cakes that kill


Chew, chew, chew. If that's not possible, the rice cakes need to be cut into smaller pieces.

Each year, authorities issue public warnings in the run-up to the new year festivities advising that people - especially the very young and elderly - should only eat mochi cut down to smaller little chunks.

I cut them up into small pieces, I am not thanked for it.

But at least they leave the house breathing

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I guess this is one way for them to go. Maybe some does intentionally seek it considering they knew the danger but still choose to eat it. Some really old people does rather choose to go out like this then choose something extreme. Like jumping off buildings or on trains, hanging, burning coal etc all seems messy and to bothersome. Death by food does seem to be a more easy option. Considering their age, sometimes i think they do rather choose this way. My great grandfather always refuse to listen to any advice when it comes to his food and drink. He always tells us, if this is the way he leave the world, then he would not mind it because he already enjoy a very long life.

Or is possible they suffer from dementia and eating it was merely a habit. Here we do have a lot of them suffering this problem considering their age.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

If mochi were indescribably delicious it would explain the flirting with death, but I find it bland beyond belief. I guess ‘tradition’ is more important than life.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

It has gotten to the point that I have to tell the seniors in my sphere of relationships to never eat mochi alone.

9 ( +9 / -0 )


1 ( +4 / -3 )

Certainly doesn’t sound like it from the description, more like a cross between rice chewing gum and rubberised super glue?

Excellent description of the stuff. I'd rather eat natto. At least that has an agreeable taste along with health benefits. But, like anything else, people--whether Japanese or non-Japanese--like what they like.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Can't we send a fake signal to brain saying that they ate mochi using neuroscience.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

When eating new year's mochi, we used to grill the mochi so it was crispy outside, and hollow inside, then dip into shoyu mixed with sugar - the grilling helps to make the mochi easier to eat and not a choking hazard . . . . On another note, manju makers should best make their manju mochi coverings soft and thin, also in order to prevent a choking hazard . . . .

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ha to make it palatable you have to grill it, then Shoyo with sugar I can do the same with cardboard. Honestly give up..it requires so much extra effort just to make it taste like something other than paper. And it can kill you. Total waist of time.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Overblown! Wonder about numbers dying from choking on other foods. Bet it's more than 12 (this seems to be the aveage for cause of death from from mochi) a year!

Now just enjoy your mochi in whatever from you fancy, along with your fugu and One Cup.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Umm,... 3,000-5,000 people die every year in Japan from choking on food. Same proportion in most countries.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

some countries ban a food if even one or two die from it… yet this happens every year!

Another one of those crazy ‘traditions’ that kills mainly old people. Same as ‘don’t go your roof during a typhoon’ and ‘don’t go on your roof when covered in snow’… gets a few every season despite repeated government warnings all over NHK news, which is seems they all watch.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Eat it with a knife and fork then you get to eat it again tomorrow - it's a snack NOT a religious rite.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

so sad, sometime when people get old their mind can't think clearly. rip.

i believe when i get to that age, probably will happen to me too, that will be nice if i have companion to remind me of the choking issue.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They should outright ban it, same with grapes

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I would think that having someone togheter with the victims would have prevented the deaths, but for some reason it is extremely rare in Japan to know simple emergency measures that can save people asphyxiating. It is unbelievable how many people die for this reason when in company that would could have saved them with a little bit of training.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Make the portions smaller!!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But I just HAVE to eat it! It's custom! I must! It won't happen to me! It won't!

You really have to wonder what the family of the deceased think when they get the news. "Maybe we should have listened to the warnings and the examples EVERY YEAR"?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This afternoon the obachan near my house choked on mochi too. Luckily she didn't die. The paramedics were great .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My wife said she'd read in the Japanese-language press that 60 people choked.

Perhaps someone was keeping a tally of cases where hospitalization wasn't required...?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I heard its 4 deaths now. Tragedy every year.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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