Quote of the day: “ In many Japanese American households and communities, an annual custom is mochitsuki—the pounding of mochi or rice cakes, which is essential to the “Oshogatsu” or New Year’s celebration. Mochitsuki is an all-day event which requires many hands, long hours, and physical labor, but is also a time of fellowship and socializing with friends and family.” — Wikipedia
This is the 15th year that Akiko is hosting a New Year’s Mochi Pounding event at her place. The event is planned for December 29 this year. And preparations for mochi pounding have already begun. Ten days before the event (Dec. 19) a neighbor (Jim, who lives 6 months of the year in Minnesota and 6 months in Hawaii) brought over large plastic garbage cans and tubs to soak the seiro (wooden steaming trays). The wooden seiro need to be soaked well because the trays sit over the fire to steam the rice. The moisure prevents them from burning.
Jim and Akiko also examined the tools for pounding the rice—kine (large wooden mallets) and a long round pole (not sure what it is called). After Akiko picked one of the long wooden poles from last year that was the perfect size, Jim left to cut poles of a similar size and shape and prepare them for the mochi pounding. He also took the kine to prepare them.
Akiko is preparing for a large group of friends and family to arrive December 26 to help prepare food for the mochi pounding. Last year over 600 people attended. I am looking forward to next week’s activities here. As the preparation continues I’ll be photographing and telling the story of how the mochi is made.