What is Mochi? Mochi is a glutinous rice dessert that has carried great cultural significance in East Asia, especially Japan. The idea of steaming rice and turning it into a paste originated in China but was introduced to Japan around 300 BC, but it wasn’t until the 6th century that every household in Japan owned a steamer so they could take part in making their own mochi. In the Heinan period, mochi was used to celebrate families- it was common for babies to be fed mochi when they were 50 days old, and it was also customary for the families of newlyweds to eat mochi together 3 days after the wedding.
The tradition of Kagami Mochi originated from the samurai, who would adorn their mochi in Japanese armor and swords and display them on an altar during the new year celebrations to pray for prosperity. It was considered offensive to cut these mochi with a knife, as it would offend the spirits, but instead they would wait for the mochi to dry and then break it with a hammer.