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Mochi – Ancient food Tradition in Japan

Mochi Food

Mochi is Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape.

In Japan it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki.. While also eaten year-round, mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year and is commonly sold and eaten during that time.

Mochi is a multicomponent food consisting of polysaccharides, lipids, protein and water. Mochi has a heterogeneous structure of amylopectin gel, starch grains and air bubbles. This rice is characterized by its lack of amylose in the starch and is derived from short or medium japonica rices. The protein concentration of the rice is a bit higher than normal short-grain rice and the two also differ in amylose content. In mochi rice, the amylose content is negligible, which results in the soft gel consistency.


The exact origin of Mochi has yet to be confirmed. The first mochitsuki ceremony occurred after the Kami are said to have descended to Earth, which was following the birth of rice cultivation in Yamato during the Yayoi period (300BC-300AD).

Red rice was the original variation used in the production of mochi. At this time, mochi was eaten exclusively by the Emperor and nobles due to its status as an omen of good fortune.

The first recorded accounts of mochi being used as a part of the New Year’s festivities was from the Japanese Heian period (794-1185).

The nobles of the Imperial Court believed that long strands of freshly made mochi symbolized a long life and good well-being, while dried mochi acted to make one’s teeth tough and more durable. Accounts of mochi have also been read in the oldest Japanese novel, “The Tale of Genji.”

Mochi continues to be one of the traditional foods eaten around Japanese New Year, as it is sold and consumed in abundance around this time.


Video Courtesy - Great Big Story