Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Flash...Kagimochi

Another New Year decoration commonly seen is the kagimochi.Traditionally it is an offering to the god of the incoming year and placed on the family altar before New Years.On January 11th,known as kagami biraki, it is broken up and eaten by members of the household.
Kagimochi is a small,round,two tiered sticky rice cake made from mochi rice.It looks similar to a headless snowman.It usually has a small bitter orange on top.The orange is known as a daiai which is a homonymn for the word "generations" and considered lucky.
The kagimochi above has a plastic rodent atop instead of an orange as 2008 is the Year of Mouse.
Mochi rice cakes are made from boiled sticky rice or mochi-gome.The mochi-gome is hit repeatedly with a wooden mallet-like hammer until it becomes sticky.It is then formed into rice cakes or made into kagimochi decorations.
As mochi is very sticky around New Years it contributes to a number of deaths caused by choking.It seems that elderly people in particular are susceptible to choking on mochi.This year it was variously reported that 5 elderly people died and at least 5 others were admitted into hospitals after choking on mochi cakes over the New Year period.Perhaps the mochi cakes should come with a health warning.

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