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Don’t choke on your traditional Japanese New Year’s meal

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

Suffocating on osechi, Japan’s selection of traditional New Year’s dishes, really does happen. Which is why Osaka-based food manufacturer Fukunao Medical Foods Co. is holding an event on Dec. 7 where osechi cuisine specially prepared for people with chewing problems and dysphagia will be available for tasting.

Osechi often includes grilled sea bream, kamaboko (broiled fish cake) and tazukuri (dried sardines cooked in soy sauce and sugar). But with Japan’s rapidly aging society, it’s come to light that some of these dishes are troublesome for those with difficulty chewing and swallowing. Every year, there are reports of the elderly who have choked while trying to swallow mochi (sticky rice cakes), a popular part of the New Year’s meal.

Fukunao is revolutionizing the traditional meal by creating what it’s calling “yawaraka” (soft) osechi. Some of their innovative dishes include easy-to-swallow mochi, extremely-soft kamaboko and sea bream prepared in such a way that even its bones are soft enough to eat. Osechi boxes for New Year’s Day will also be available for reservation on the spot.

The Easy-to-chew Osechi tasting event takes place on Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fukunao Medical Food Co.’s cookery facility in Higashisumiyoshi-ku, Osaka. The event is free of charge. For more information, call 06-6115-7235.