National Mochi Day Date in the current year: August 8, 2024

National Mochi Day If your a fan of Japanese cuisine, don’t forget to celebrate National Mochi Day on August 8. This unofficial food holiday celebrates glutinous rice cakes that are popular both in Japan and abroad.

The broad term “rice cake” refers to any kind of food that is made from rice and shaped into a single object. Rice cakes are particularly prevalent in Asian cuisines, where rice is a staple. They can be made from whole rice grains, ground rice, or rice flour.

Among the several types of rice cakes in Japanese cuisine, mochi is probably the best-known one. It is made from glutinous strains of japonica rice called mochigome. Traditional plain mochi is made with rice as the only ingredient. Whole polished rice grains are soaked overnight, steamed, and pounded with a wooden pestle (kine) in a traditional stamp mill (usu). The resulting sticky mass is formed into individual rice cakes. Mochi should not be confused with a similar dish called dango, which is made from rice flour instead of pounded rice grains.

Mochi can be eaten as part of the main meal or used as an ingredient in other foods such as soups and various confections. For example, zōni is a Japanese soup with rice cakes that is traditionally served during Japanese New Year celebrations. Daifuku is a small round mochi stuffed with red bean paste, fruit, pureed chestnuts, or another sweet filling. Mochi ice cream is a confection consisting of mochi with an ice cream filling.

Mochi has a unique cultural significance to the Japanese people. It has been cooked to celebrate special occasions (birthdays, weddings, various holidays) for centuries. For example, kagami mochi is a traditional decoration placed on family altars a few days before New Year. It consists of two round mochi cakes, one on top of the other, and a small bitter orange on top of the mochi. Kagami mochi are broken and eaten in a ceremony called kagami biraki that takes place on January 11.

Sakuramochi is another seasonal type of mochi. It is pink-colored, stuffed with anko (red bean paste) and wrapped in a pickled sakura (Japanese cherry) leaf. Sakuramochi is usually eaten in spring, especially during the cherry blossom season.

Another type of mochi associated with spring is hishi mochi, eaten during the Hinamatsuri festival. It is a diamond-shaped rice cake that consists of several layers. The most typical variation of hishi mochi has three layers, from top to bottom: pink (colored with gardenia fruits), white (colored with water caltrop), and green (colored with Japanese mugwort).

National Mochi Day was launched in 2021. The holiday was created by Mochi Mochi Wagashi, a Hawaii-based mochi business founded that same year, to celebrate the deliciousness that is mochi and, of course, to help develop the newly established business.

To celebrate National Mochi Day, indulge in some delicious Japanese rice cake. You can try several varieties of mochi to figure out your favorite one, or find a recipe online and cook these glutinous rice cakes at home. And don’t forget to post about the holiday on social media with the hashtag #NationalMochiDay to spread the word.

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National Mochi Day, food days, unofficial holidays, observances in the United States, Japanese cuisine, rice cakes