At least two people have died and another 12 have been hospitalised in Tokyo

Two people have died and 12 others were hospitalized after choking on mochi rice cakes in Japan’s annual mochi New Year eating tradition.

Every year in Japan, public warnings are issued by the national police and emergency response services regarding eating mochi rice cakes to welcome in the new year. The sweet traditional delicacies served to celebrate the new year are notoriously dense and sticky.

The sweet traditional delicacies served to celebrate the new year are notoriously dense and sticky and are often dissected into small pieces to allow for easier chewing. Because of their tough composition, the elderly often struggle with masticating the glutinous treats.

This year the Tokyo Fire Department confirmed the two fatalities were a 60-year-old man from Kita Ward and an 81-year-old man from Itabashi Ward.

Another 12 people, ranging from ages 28 to 89 were also hospitalized but were discharged yesterday.

In 2016 a woman in her eighties died from choking on a mochi rice cake. In 2015, nine people were killed whilst taking part in the tradition.

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