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New Year’s tradition in Japan reportedly turns deadly – yet again


Nearly a dozen people were taken to the hospital Tuesday — and one man later died — after choking on a traditional New Year’s treat in Japan that has a deadly track record, Japan Today reported. The man who died was reportedly in his 80s.

Authorities annually warn people to cut the sticky rice cakes, known as mochi, into smaller pieces to make them easier to eat, especially for the elderly and children. People are also advised to eat the treats slowly.

This year, seven out of the 11 people who were taken to hospitals were older than 60, Fuji TV reported, citing the Tokyo Fire Department.

The treats made of pounded, steamed rice have caused multiple choking deaths over the years. Last New Year’s, two people reportedly died in Tokyo after choking on mochi.

In 2001, a woman saved her father’s life when she used a vacuum cleaner to pull mochi from her father’s throat. He was 70, Japan Today reported.

The Tokyo Fire Department has a website offering tips on how to help someone choking on the rice cakes.