Happy New Year! Or as it is formally written nihongo de: 謹賀新年!
It wouldn't be a new year without the annual culling of the elderly through sticky balls of glutinous rice - aka. Mochi. An annual occurrence along the lines of Christmas tree fires in the west, every year a few unfortunate souls choke on a bit of tradition that dates back hundreds of years.
"Five people died in the Kanto area on Tuesday and Wednesday after choking on sticky "mochi" rice cake, it was learned Thursday.
In Tokyo, a total of 13 people were rushed to hospital on New Year's Day and the following day after choking on mochi, according to the Tokyo Fire Department. Two of them -- a 59-year-old man from Ota-ku and an 83-year-old man from Adachi-ku -- died on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
A 71-year-old man from Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture, a 76-year-old man from Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture, and another man living in Yokohama also died after choking on the bubblegum-textured rice cake.
Mochi is traditionally served during the New Year's period in Japan." (link)
I ask you, when will the madness end? (And how can this not remind one of the Monty Python's 'Crunchy Frog' skit?)