Mochi often used as a symbol of longevity. But who would have thought this sweet snack can also cause sudden death on New Year’s Eve.
Japan knows the tradition of enjoying osechi on New Year’s Eve. Osechi refers to dishes that have a language or cultural significance associated with the welcoming of New Year’s Eve.
For example, renkon or lotus root includes osechi because the surface is hollow. Eating a renkon on New Year’s Eve is expected to have a clear vision of a profitable future.
However osechi has a dark side associated mochi or rice cake which is also included in it. In Japan, mochi are often eaten in the form of solid blocks, such as osechi, have a very stretchy texture.
The word melar in Japanese is “nobiru” can also mean “extend” or “continue.” Therefore eating osechi on New Year’s Eve is expected to make someone long life with a happy life.
Ironically this hope is often reversed because of the fact mochi often cause death due to its chewy texture. Especially in the elderly who can not chew well.
They often gobble mochi in large sizes that lead to choking. Each year, a number of usiapun died because of this.
This year, Tokyo Fire Department reported on January 1, 2018 at 9 pm, there were 15 Tokyo residents who were rushed to the hospital due to choking mochi. Their average age is 55 to 90 years. Unfortunately, two men, one in his 50s and one in 80, died of his unsaved condition.
In Japan, the New Year celebration traditionally lasts until January 3rd. This means that there are many mochi that may be eaten. To prevent it, the Tokyo Fire Department urged elderly to cut small mochi before devouring it.
They are also expected to chew and swallow it carefully. Tokyo Fire Department also appealed to elderly families to accompany them while eating mochi and contact the paramedics immediately if they experience an accident after eating mochi.