January 7th, 2001


Eat your mochi while you may...

I never knew that there was so much of a risk to mochi eating... I love mochi, so it's vaguely disconcerting to know that if I try eating it over a certain age, I will be taking my life in my hands... especially since we have an upright vacuum cleaner.


Vacuum Cleaner Saves Man Chokes on Rice Cake

TOKYO (Reuters) - A vacuum cleaner saved the life of a 70-year-old man when it was used to suck out a rice cake on which he was choking, local officials said on Saturday.

``His daughter used the vacuum cleaner to suck out the mochi,'' a local official in the northern island of Hokkaido said.

The sticky mochi, made of glutinous rice, is traditionally served during New Year's in Japan, but it can be lethal to elderly people. Every year the Japanese press has reports of elderly people dying from eating mochi during the holidays.

The government this year issued a special warning on the dangers of mochi for the elderly and very young.

While the vacuum cleaner successfully sucked out the mass of mochi, the official cautioned that it is not an accepted way to dislodge such items.

``Although he is all right, you have to be careful since such actions can harm your intestines,'' he said.