Travel to Japan for New Year’s with the Kagami Mochi (Mirror Rice Cake)

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The Story of Kagami Mochi

The Japanese Kagami mochi, which literally translates into “mirror rice cake”, is part of a long-standing New Year’s tradition. It is put out after Christmas until the first Saturday or Sunday of January and is eaten as part of a ritual known as the Kagami Biraki, which means mirror opening or breaking of the mochi. The Kagami mochi is meant to bring prosperity and longevity. It is traditionally displayed inside the house in the kamidana, calling upon, Toshigami, the god of the new year, to bring good luck.


The Kagami mochi consists of two different-sized rice cakes (mochi) placed on top of each other, with the larger one below. It is then topped with a daidai, a Japanese bitter orange. The two mochi represent the years past and the years to come, while “daidai” in kanji writing means “generation to generation”. Together, the two stand for continuity of the family over the years to come.


The Kagami Biraki usually falls on the 11th of January. By then the mochi is quite brittle and is broken up into smaller pieces using one’s hands or a hammer. The mochi is never cut with a knife as it would imply the severing of family ties. It is then eaten by the family.


How to Make your own Kagami mochi

You will need:

  • 2 Store-bought Mochi (or learn how to make your own here!)
  • 1 Daidai or Tangerine
  • Ornaments to decorate (optional)



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