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The Mochi Guide

Last month, I attended two mochi-making events at nursery schools. Mochi is rice-paste made from pounding sticky rice with a wooden sledgehammer (kine). The rice is hammered in something that looks like a partially hollowed tree trunk (usu). Usually, several people take turns hammering with a continuous rhythm, while one person quickly readjusts the paste-ball between each drop of the hammer. Once the rice is all homogenized into one uniform ball, it’s divided into bite-sized mochi-balls. Via chopsticks, they are dunked into various flavors (like soybean powder). The mochi-balls are then in final form and ready to be eaten. The hammering is a full-body event if done well – abs, arms, legs, and back balanced with the hammer’s own momentum from gravity. If I am ever made into a video game character, I will likely request a mochi-hammer as my weapon. I loved it. Being the person who readjusts the paste-ball was also exciting. At the second event I attended, I played this role as well. I felt a need to focus. Momentary distraction or disharmony with the hammerer could lead to a brutal situation. Ironically, after spending a few hours making mochi, I found out I don’t like eating it. A lot of Japanese people do like it – it’s a pretty common food here.

-Nick

Photo guide:

Step 1: Watch and study

Step 2: Hammer the rice

Step 3: Make little mochi-balls

Step 4: Flavor the little mochi-balls at the chopstick-station

Step 5: Discretely escape the chopstick-station when your hand gets tired

(photo unavailable due to clandestine nature of its contents)

Step 6: Eat and avoid child cleanup duty

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