Rare Tradition of Swallowing Freshly Pounded Mochi Takes Place in Southern Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A man quickly swallows freshly pounded mochi at a festival in Shiroishi, Saga Prefecture, on Sunday.

A unique local tradition of swallowing freshly pounded mochi took place in Shiroishi, Saga Prefecture.

At a festival featuring “mochi susuri” (mochi slurping) on Sunday, eight members of the tradition’s preservation group gulped down the sticky rice cakes without chewing. Each about 30 to 50 centimeters-long and seasoned with sesame and soy sauce, participants swallowed them in less than 10 seconds.

Kosuke Sadamatsu, a member of the group and a town councilor, said he got a start at the practice when he was in junior high school by imitating the adults at festivals.

Seventy-one-year-old Sadamatsu said he swallows mochi every year-end after pounding some. He said, “I’m used to it. I Just keep swallowing without chewing. It nicely slides down my throat.” However, as he had choked twice in the past, he cautioned against people trying it at home, as it can be dangerous.