About six people choked to death after eating Japanese traditional sticky rice cakes (mochi) to celebrate the new year in Tokyo.

The New Year period is one of Japan's biggest holidays and it is traditional to cook a special soup containing sticky rice cakes, known as mochi.

Fire department officials say this New Year they have reports of at least six people choking to death from eating the rice cakes in Tokyo alone.

Five others survived but are in a serious condition.

It is reported that the victims were in their 70s or older. Japanese authorities have repeatedly advised people to cut the mochi into small pieces before consuming them.