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10 Mochi You Need To Know Before Travelling To Japan

by Zign Meeprasertskul June 23, 2016 2 Comments

types of Japanese mochi
We looked for all types of food and desserts for mochi lovers out there. Mochi can be enjoyed in both savory and sweet dishes. Here’s a checklist of the different Japanese mochi delicacies you need to try when you travel to Japan.

mochi gome
Freshly washed and cooked Mochigome

Mochi is one of Japan’s most well-known ingredient, enjoyed for its chewy texture traditionally made by pounding mochigome, a polished glutinous rice.

Do you know how mochi is made?

First, the rice is soaked in water overnight and cooked until it is soft and ready to be pounded.

Next, the rice is cooked then placed in the center of a mortar repeatedly pounded by a large wooden mallet dabbed with water to maintain its moisture. This traditional method is called mochitsuki (which means mochi pounding) The process may take up hours of hard work and sweat to produce the soft sticky mass of mochi.

©bernardomayer  - Flickr


A shop in Nara, Japan called Nakatanidou claims to be the fastest mochitsuki champions in all of Japan. Since the process of making fresh mochi requires so much time and effort, most Japanese families who want to prepare mochi at home may also buy pre-cut mochi called Kiri mochi from the supermarkets.

©davegolden  - Flickr

1. Mame Daifuku

One of the most popular classics. Soft round Mochi stuffed with red bean paste. This can be found in any supermarket and convenient stores in Japan but Gunrundou,Tokyo is well known for its delicious mame daifuku. The red beans are added into freshly pound mochi where the combination of saltiness in the red beans and sweetness of the paste combine to perfection like no other stores.

mame daifuku

©mana_cat  - tabelog

2. Ichigo Daifuku

Basically a daifuku with a huge luscious strawberry at its center. Thanks to the third generation president of Tamaya, the ichigo daifuku was first sold in 1985, and has become one of the best-sellers for daifuku throughout Japan ever since. Tamaya’s ichigo daifuku can be only found in Yotsuya, Ginza, Shinjuk, and Ichigaya, where they a well-balanced confection of mochi, anko, and strawberry.

ichigo daifuku

3. Yomogi Mochi

Yomogi mochi comes with spring. An extremely earthy flavored mochi, mixed with yomogi (mugwort, basically grass). Japan’s fastest mochitsuki champions comes from a shop a in Nara specializing in making these yomogi rice cakes the traditional way. While yomogi mochi is commonly found in supermarkets, Nakatanidou ’s famous rice cakes gives customers a soft and tender texture nothing like those machine-made mochis. The tea-like flavor of yomogi compliments the red bean paste inside to perfection.

  yomogi mochi

©silivren  - Flickr


4. Mochi Ice cream

If you like ice cream, and you like mochi, here’s both. Created in Little Tokyo, a Japantown in L.A., Frances Hashimoto put 7 flavors of ice cream in sweet light layer of mochi beginning its production in 1993. It took decades of research before mochi ice cream could achieve mass production because the texture of mochi were difficult to control at different temperatures. The product is sold in almost 2000 stores across the States in Trader Joe’s and asian markets. There is nothing much to describe how these taste like, de-li-cious.

mochi ice-cream

©roboppy  - Flickr

5. Oshiruko

On a cold winter day, there is nothing more relaxing than a warm sweet azuki (red bean) soup with some half-melted soft mochi. The soup is made by boiling azuki beans  and adding sugar to make a watery paste. A toasted mochi is added to the soup to lighten the sweetness of the azuki  paste.


©ichicoblog  - Flickr

6 Chikara Udon

When udon is not enough, add mochi. The mochi added to this pleasant bowl of udon gives it the name “power udon”. 

chikara udon

©travelingrhinos - Flickr

7. Ozoni

Eaten on the morning of New Year in Japan, this mochi is soaked in broth that varies across region, whether it’s fish, chicken, or vegetable. The dish is customized by its regions, where those living near the sea would add fish and salmon roe while those living closer in land add chicken and vegetables.

Each ingredient added to the dashi broth is believed to bring good luck for the year to come. For example, since mochi is sticky and can be stretched really long, it represents longetivity to those who eat them. It is believed that finishing your zoni will bring you good luck and longetivity.


©yoppy - Flickr

8. Sakura Mochi

These pink sakura colored mochi marks the beginning of spring. The combination of sweetness with the slight saltiness and bitterness of the pickled sakura leaf is perfect with the red bean paste inside.

sakura mochi

©bananagranola  - Flickr

9. Kaku Mochi

Going back to basic, we have this squared rice cake, grilled or toasted until slightly burnt. You can wrap then in seaweed and dip them in soy sauce for a classic flavor.

kaku mochi

10. Dango

Dango is a toasted mochiko ball covered with different toppings for various occasions. The toppings varies from the sweetness of red bean paste or black sesame to the saltiness of soy sauce syrup and seaweed. Unlike mochi made by pounding mochigome (glutinous rice), these are just made with mochiko flour. 


©irudono  - Flickr

So that’s our list of 10 mochi to try if you plan to be in Japan over the holidays. These sticky soft delights will definitely give you something to chew on!

  Enjoyed this post? Check out these other delicious articles!


Zign Meeprasertskul
Zign Meeprasertskul

2 Responses

Betty Whipple
Betty Whipple

November 10, 2019

I love mochi

Octavia B
Octavia B

June 28, 2016

I enjoyed this article, but it seems that the process of making fresh mochi requires so much time and effort. Anything that take that much time has to be good. You can see the pride that goes into it. Can’t wait to try these for myself.

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