Different types of Japanese rice cakes(mochi)

Mochi is traditional Japanese food item which is considered as a celebratory food. It is made and offered to god during the New year. Mochi is also made and distributed during special occasions and celebrations. It is made from sticky rice by pounding the rice in large bowls called ‘usu’ using huge wooden hammers. ‘Mochitsugi’ (mochi making) is associated with New year celebrations when most of the Japanese make mochi at their home. But nowadays, lack of time and effort in making mochi had resulted in people buying it from the supermarkets during New year celebrations.

Mochi is also available in various types. Seasonal mochi types are found in supermarkets, and convenience stores. Regional mochi flavours are also sold at many places. Most of the sweet mochi are often served with green tea(matcha).

  1. Goheimochi: Goheimochi could be seen in every festive location and tourist spots of Japan. It is the skewered rice cakes which are grilled and coated with sweet sauce. 
  2. Daifuku: Daifuku is a Japanese sweet dish in which the rice cake is made with red bean paste(anko) or white bean paste(shiro an) filling inside it. It is available in various forms and colours.                  
  3. Sakura mochi: Sakura mochi is the mochi in pink colour, which is the colour of the Japanese cherry blossoms or Sakura. The rice cake has red bean paste filling at the center and usually covered with pickled cherry blossom leaves. It is a Japanese seasonal confectionery.

    Photo by mamo Hiro on Flickr
  4. Kusa mochi: Kusamochi is the green coloured rice cake made with Japanese Mugwort(yomogi) leaves as an ingredient. It is also a seasonal sweet of spring but could be found in stores in every season. Sweet red bean paste could be found at the centre of this sweet mochi.
  5.  Hanabira mochi: These are special mochi of Kyoto prefecture. Hanabira means flower petal. A burdock root candy is inserted at the middle of this thin mochi which encloses white bean paste inside it. This flat semicircular shaped mochi was eaten by the ancient Japanese nobles during the New year.
  6. Kirimochi: As its name indicates it is the cut rice cake, which is made from the special sticky rice through the Mochitsuki process. This is made into desired shapes, usually round or square. It cannot be eaten as it is. Usually, Kirimochi is toasted which make it puffs up and cook well which is either served with Kinako(roasted soybean flour), wrapped in nori sheet(seaweed) and sugar mixture or with sweetened soy sauce.

    Photo by Kazuhisa OTSUBO on Flickr
  7. Kinako mochi: Kinako mochi is nothing but the Kirimochi coated with kinako flour and sugar. Kinako is the toasted soybean powder with a slight sweetness.

    Photo by Danny Choo on Flickr
  8. Dango: Dango are small sweet dumplings usually served in groups of five or more on a skewer. It is also available in various colours and varieties. Read about Dango varieties here.  
  9. Ohagi: Ohagi also known as botamochi are Anko(sweet bean paste) covered sticky rice cakes served during spring and autumn. It can also be seen coated with Kinako powder, green tea powder etc.
  10. Hishimochi: Hishimochi is a colourful three-layered rhombus shaped sweet associated with the girls festival(Hinamatsuri) of Japan. The pink(red), white and green coloured mochi is arranged in layers each of which has special meaning. Pink represents plum flowers, white represents snow, and the green colour represents spring.  All these colours symbolise longevity and good health.
  11. Warabi mochi: Warabimochi is a traditional summer sweet of Japan, even though it is now available in the supermarkets and shops in every season. It is made from the Warabi(Bracken) root powder and served with Kinako(sweetened Soybean powder) or sugar syrup. Warabi is very rare and it is costly. So sometimes, Warabi mochi is prepared from corn starch or potato starch. Warabimochi sold at supermarkets are cheaper and they are available in various colours too. Transparent ones and green ones are commonly found. 
  12. Kuzumochi: Kuzumochi is made from the starch of Japanese arrowroot. It is also a summer sweet of Japan often served with Kinako flour or Black sugar syrup.

    Photo by Vance on Flickr

There are still many other seasonal and regional mochi varieties of available in Japan. Mochi can be found very common in the supermarkets year around.