mochi

Harvest moon brings harvest sweets in Japan, here are a few you can try!

This week in Japan, people around the country are celebrating a special event known as tsukimi, literally “moon-viewing”. Celebrated on the 15th day of the lunar calendar (which lands sometime between September and October) it is the best time to look at the moon because the position of the earth, sun and moon make it appear especially big and bright. Just as with cherry blossom viewing, it’s a time to honor the beauty of nature with food, drink and friends.

One of the most traditional foods to celebrate with is called tsukimi dango which are sweets made of mochi (Japanese rice cake). But just as the Japanese dialect isn’t the same from Hokkaido to Okinawa, the look and taste of tsukimi dango vary from region to region. Here are three of the most interesting versions from across Japan!

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Baskin Robbins Japan accepting pre-orders for Kagami Mochi Ice Cream Cakes

With New Year’s just around the corner supermarkets and department stores all over Japan are displaying kagami mochi. These are mounds of the popular Japanese food mochi which is made from rice and has a gummy consistency.

They can serve as household decorations up until 1 January when they may then be happily, and hopefully safely, devoured. However, mochi has a subtle sweetness that some might find rather bland. If that’s the case for you then Baskin Robbins is hoping you’ll enjoy their Kagami Mochi Ice Cream Cakes.

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Traditional Japanese Food Kills Two People, 15 More Hospitalized

A popular confectionery around the New Year’s season in Japan is mochi.  Mochi is often translated to “rice cake” but is nothing like the Styrofoam discs of the same name that are popular in some countries and doesn’t really resemble a cake at all.  It can either be more like a soft “rice gummy”, usually stuffed with sugary foods like sweet beans, strawberry, or even ice cream; or like a “condensed rice block”, which is often basted in soy sauce, grilled, and wrapped in seaweed.

Mochi is made by whacking rice in a tub repeatedly with a giant wooden mallet, a fun but tiring holiday festivity.  During New Year’s mochi is sold in a small snowman like configuration called kagami mochi (pictured above) which serves as a decoration until it is eaten after 1 January.

While all of this sounds fun, mochi has a dark side as well – one that foreigners who try it for the first time often realize quickly: It’s chewy, sticky, and really hard to eat.

And if you’re not careful, this little snack could land you in the ER.

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