Skip to Content

Mochi, Mochi, Mochi

Food is such an integral and fascinating part of any travel, but especially in Japan. One thing we always do is walk through a grocery store to see the types of things people are eating.  In fact, if we are going to bring home anything from a trip, it’s most likely going to be some candy or food.  When Jim and I traveled to Iceland, we brought home all the condiments and fixing for hot dogs!

So what are those creamy white and forest green balls of goo on sticks?  It’s called mochi!  My youngest daughter loved it the first time we traveled to Japan when she was eight, and she’s been trying all kinds of mochi ever since.

Mochi Japan

Mochi are rice balls.  Hard to bite into, chewy, glutinous blobs of sugary rice.  Many times they are dipped in a sauce, like in the photo above.  The brown ones have been dipped in teriyaki sauce making them a more savory than sweet choice.  Honestly, I’m not a fan, but like I said Erika loves them.  You can find mochi balls all over Japan, at every festival as well as many street vendors.

If you enjoy unique things you can only do in Japan, check out this podcast!

Many traditional foods have good luck properties and for mochi the family is bringing on the characteristics of flexibility and endurance.  These are such sought after personality traits, that many families eat at least one serving of mochi with every meal, replacing the normal rice, for the first week of the Japanese new year.

During the Japanese New Year traditions, all the schools and many of the towns pound mochi to bring them good luck.  A large wooden bucket is brought out with a huge wooden mallet. If you get a chance to pound some mochi this coming new year, do it!  It definitely teaches you a lesson in endurance as your muscles start to ache. The cooked rice is put into the bowl and pounded and pounded, usually with many people taking turns, until it is ground into a thick paste.  The mochi is then shared.

Have you ever tried mochi?  What do you think?

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Kristin Henning

Wednesday 17th of December 2014

I tried mochi, and now I know what I tried! I really didn't know what I was eating at the time, but it was a savory variety, and I went back for more. By the way, we are right across the street from the real food market in Florence at Mercado San Ambrogio. I agree. Checking out the food is a wonderful way to start a couple week's exploration of the city.

Corinne Vail

Thursday 18th of December 2014

Kris, Have fun! We are heading to Morocco for two weeks. Where are you off to next?

rhonda albom

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

While I have never tried mochi, my daughter walked by while I was reading this, "Oh, yummy, I love that stuff!" Apparently she has had it dipped in a peanut butter sauce.

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 17th of December 2014

Rhonda, Maybe it is more of a kid should try it someday.


Tuesday 16th of December 2014

I think we ate it not knowing what it was. There was something similar sitting atop a Machi Icecream Cone. Also ate something similar given to us in a restaurant. A bit of a non-event tastewise. :)

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

Jan, Yep, that might be it.

Sophie @ Sophie's World

Monday 15th of December 2014

Never tried mochi, but it sounds very interesting.. though the savoury variety perhaps not so much.

Corinne Vail

Monday 15th of December 2014

Sophie, I personally like the savory more than the sweet, but to be honest the texture and I just don't agree.


Sunday 14th of December 2014

I like mochi too...