Next year is the year of the snake on the Chinese astrological calendar. That means convenience stores and markets all over Japan are selling shelf stable packages of "kagami mochi" with cute little plastic figures of snakes on them. Only in Japan could they make a slithering fanged menace that is the stuff of Indy Jones's (and my) nightmares look adorable enough to want to collect a figure of it.
If I had been paying attention, it might have been nice to collect all 12 plastic figures by buying these cheap and not very tasty bits of mochi each year, but I only picked a couple up when I was in Japan and the figures I got (a tiger and a dragon) didn't make the journey with me. Oh well, they are just cheap plastic figures, and the mochi from these offerings was really pretty much the worst. though no inedible, it didn't compare to the fresh stuff.