I have to admit that while I know a lot about Japanese culture, one thing that I’m not too knowledgeable about is the tradition of mochi-making, or mochitsuki. The only thing I knew about it was that Japanese people see the craters and shadows of the moon as a rabbit making these delicious rice cakes. Luckily, one of my schools invited me to their mochi-making event recently.

A rabbit making rice cakes. Not to be confused with moon cakes.
A rabbit making rice cakes on the moon. Not to be confused with moon cakes.

In mochitsuki, glutinous rice is soaked overnight. Two people then take turns pounding the rice with giant wooden mallets until it turns into a consistency slightly firmer than dough. It’s a great way to get your stress out. But it was such a nice day, the kids were excited to see me, and I had freshly-pounded mochi waiting that there was absolutely no stress in me.

Three cool things about this:

1. 99% of mochi in Japan is made with white glutinous rice, but due to tradition this school always uses red rice, so it was healthier.
2. The kids grew the rice in a field across the street from the school.
3. There were lots of leftovers and I got to take some home!

Ready to take a pounding.
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They had me join in on the fun.
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Mochi covered in kinako, toasted soybean flour with a peanut butter-like flavour (L), and soy sauce and grated daikon (R).
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The field where the rice was grown.
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