Photo/Illutration “Mochi” rice cakes are produced in Fukuoka Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file phto)

An elderly woman died and five other people were in serious condition in the Tokyo area after choking on “mochi” sticky rice cakes between Jan. 1 and 3, the Tokyo Fire Department said.

Nine people between 28 and 93 in Tokyo were rushed to hospitals after mochi, a traditional Japanese food eaten during the New Year period, became lodged in their throats, the department said Jan. 4.

The woman who died was in her 90s. She choked on mochi when she was eating a bowl of “shiruko,” a sweet soup made with beans, around 4 p.m. on Jan. 3 at her home in Shibuya Ward.

She was confirmed dead at a hospital.

On Jan. 1, a man in his 80s went into cardiac arrest after choking on mochi while eating a bowl of “zoni,” a traditional New Year soup, at his home in Hino.

A man in his 70s was rushed to a hospital in a state of cardiac arrest after choking on mochi at his home in Nishi-Tokyo.

The nine who were taken to hospitals consisted of three people in their 70s, two in their 80s, two in their 90s, one 20-something and one 60-something.

The statistics exclude Inagi and the island areas of Tokyo.

To prevent choking incidents, the Tokyo Fire Department urges people to cut mochi into smaller pieces and to chew the cakes well before swallowing.

It also advises people to pay careful attention to infants and older people when they eat mochi.

Learning how to provide first aid to someone who is choking on mochi is also recommended.