Rice Power = Mochi

I stand nearby the making of mochi as it gets pounded by guests of Sumobeya Musashimaru. The staff take turns churning the rice in preparation of the end result. An annual ritual, people gather at the time of New Year to eat and enjoy mochi. A winter food, it relates to harvest and the celebration of “rice power”, a joining together, a communion of family, friends and community, an act of nurturing.

The water and rice mixture splitters and splatters across the room as it gets a hit by a giant wooden mallet. The mood is cheerful, no one notices much except everyone is eating mochi and drinking. The helpers sit along a table as the process starts with rice outside that is washed, then steamed in baskets and then carried and dumped (carefully) into a large wooden bowl. The wooden hammer flies up and down, it cracks the rice into a gooey texture.

Friends take turns pounding the rice until it is finally formed into various sizes and shapes. It is traditionally made using wooden mortars and pestles, the end result is a wonderful starched rice ball that can be topped with a variety of ingredients.