Mochinage, Japanese cake-throwing tradition

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  • Mochinage (餅投げ, also called Mochimaki, 餅撒き in Japanese) is a Japanese traditional event in which one throws Mochi (rice cake, 餅 in Japanese) for those who got together on religious occasions (Shintoism), such as the ceremony of putting up the ridge beam of a new house. (Muneage 棟上げ, or Jotoshiki 上棟式 in Japanese).

    This tradition, however, takes place less often these days in Japan as lifestyle has changed. This article is not only for the people who are planning to come to Japan from abroad, but also for those who already live in Japan!

    1. History of Mochinage

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    People used to host this event to demonstrate their new houses for those who came to the ceremony, and also to pray for the safety of the family. Since the amount of Mochi and the number of gathered people reflected the virtue and the financial power of the host, the family was making a huge effort for the sake of prestige! Unfortunately, based on the tradition, only men are allowed to throw the goods from upstairs.

    2. Preparation of Mochinage

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    The hosts provide the information about when and where the Mochinage will be held, to the neighbours. They don’t only prepare Mochi, but also some other snacks, such as chips, coins, chocolates and so on.

    The visitors can bring Sake, beer or some other goods to celebrate.

    3. Now, it’s time to catch as many things as you can!

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    We can assume that those who have played ball sports such as baseball, basketball or volleyball have some advantage, but you should know that your positioning is also important! Being the closest to the hosts is most likely the best place to take. Also, you can call his/her name, so that they can recognise you easily in the crowd.

    Although Mochinage is no longer popular as much as it used to be, there will still be some opportunities for you to see it somewhere in Japan! If you see it by any chance, don’t miss it and take a part in our tradition! Thank you!