National Mochi Day is celebrated every August 8 to pay tribute to the bulbous, glutinous orbs of joy that are mochi cakes! This traditional Japanese cake has won the hearts of many around the world with its sticky, powdery texture and sweet taste. Mochi comes in different types and sizes and can be combined with other sweets such as ice cream, making it a delectable treat perfect to cap off a nice meal.
History of National Mochi Day
National Mochi Day was announced in 2021 by Hawaiian mochi business Mochi Mochi Wagashi as a day to celebrate all the wonders of mochi. The humble mochi’s origins date back to ancient history. It is recognized that the Japanese started making their own mochi after they started growing their own rice in the Jomon period between 14,000 B.C. and 300 B.C. During the Kofun period in the 6th century, the production of homemade mochi increased as earthenware steamers became available in almost every household.
In the Heian period (794 to 1185), mochi was used and eaten in ceremonial events, ‘shinto,’ such as marriage and childbirth, and became a traditional Japanese New Year treat. Mochi holds great significance in Japan particularly during the New year season as different varieties are consumed as symbols of luck. One of them is the ‘zoni’ soup, which is a soup containing mochi pieces and various other vegetables. Another is the ‘kagami mochi’, consumed during the ‘kagami biraki’ ritual.
Prevalent in Japan as a cultural symbol, mochi comes in a large variety of forms and can be prepared differently according to different regions. The types of mochi include the round, familiar ‘marumochi,’ the square ‘kakumochi,’ and the ‘sakuramochi,’ which is a pink mochi wrapped in a pickled ‘sakura’ (cherry blossom) leaf. Some types of mochi are consumed during specific occasions in Japan. For example, ‘kashiwamochi’, a mochi wrapped in a ‘kashiwa’ (oak) leaf, is a traditional treat eaten during Children’s Day on May 5, while ‘sakuramochi’ is eaten to symbolize the start of spring. Meanwhile, ‘kakumochi’ is a traditional Japanese household winter treat, which is heated and eaten wrapped in a piece of ‘nori’ (seaweed) and dipped in soy sauce.
Present types of mochi available on sale today are commonly filled with a variety of pastes such as ‘azuki’ (red bean), ‘matcha’ (green tea), black sesame, taro, and even vanilla. Other iterations also include mochi ice cream, where the soft exterior of the mochi’s skin blends perfectly with the cool sweetness of ice cream.
National Mochi Day timeline
Homemade production of mochi begins to rise in Japanese households.
Mochi becomes popular as a New Year's delicacy during Japan's Heian period.
Frances Hashimoto, a Japanese-American businesswoman, invents the mochi ice cream, which becomes incredibly popular in the United States.
National Mochi Day is announced by Hawaiian mochi business Mochi Mochi Wagashi.
National Mochi Day FAQs
What is the difference between mochi and dango?
Although they look similar, mochi and ‘dango’ are not the same. Mochi is made using glutinous rice, while dango uses rice flour. Both also have different textures as mochi is more rubbery, while the dango is smooth.
How long does mochi last?
The typical pack of commercially produced mochi you buy at your local store can last up to a few months unopened at room temperature and up to 12 months in the fridge. When opened, it lasts around one week in the fridge and two weeks in the freezer. The typical shelf life of fresh mochi is around 24 hours.
Why is mochi a choking hazard?
Because of its waxy, sticky, dry consistency, mochi can get stuck in the throat if not chewed properly or eaten too quickly. The Tokyo Fire Department stated in 2021 that up to 100 people are hospitalized annually because of mochi suffocation, with most cases happening during the festive New Year season.
National Mochi Day Activities
The best way to celebrate National Mochi Day is to, well, eat some mochi! We're sure that you have your own favorite type of mochi, whether it is filled with bean paste or ice cream, so grab one and enjoy its goodness!
Try different varieties
Yes, your favorite mochi might be the azuki-filled ones, but in the spirit of the holiday, why not try other flavors that you might not have tried before? You can opt for a peanut-covered black sesame one or even a traditional plain one and expand your taste in mochi!
Make your own balls of glutinous joy
Why not try and make some of your favorite treats at home? There are many mochi recipes available online that you can follow and make your own. However, you want it to be in your hands (literally).
5 Interesting Facts About Mochi
The process originated in China
The process of steaming rice and beating it to a paste originated in China, way before mochi was invented.
Many countries have their own types
Several Asian countries have their own forms of mochi, such as Indonesia's 'kue moci' and Korea's 'chapssal-tteok.'
Its chewiness hospitalizes many annually
The Japanese government recommends that mochi be eaten in small cut pieces due to the high number of yearly deaths and hospitalizations as a result of eating them.
Mochi is part of Japanese folklore
A popular Japanese folktale explains that the moon's outline is shaped like a rabbit making mochi.
It is a perfect snack for dieters
The average mochi ball contains 100 to 180 calories, making it the perfect low-calorie snack.
Why We Love National Mochi Day
It is a day of appreciation
Mochi has given the world an immeasurable amount of joy for as long as it has existed. From its sweet, gooey texture to its uplifting sweetness, it is only fair that the little sticky treats get their own special day to be celebrated!
It celebrates mochi's role in culture
National Mochi Day also serves as a day to celebrate mochi's role in shaping world cultures. Many Asian countries have their own takes on mochi, which are used in ceremonial and spiritual rituals. The fact that it has managed to transcend borders and be honored by many is a testament to its universal qualities.
It celebrates mochi's uniqueness
We just can't resist the allure of these little cakes. Because National Mochi Day celebrates all things mochi, we should appreciate every single unique thing about it, be it the colorful designs, the different types, and the different ways it is made. There really is no dessert like it.
National Mochi Day dates