Ringing in the New Year with Fresh Mochi

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This holiday season, many families will gather to celebrate the Japanese New Year’s tradition of making mochi.

You can pick up fresh or frozen mochi from many stores around the state at this time of year. But there’s something special about making it the old fashioned way.

In the case of mochi pounding, too many cooks in the kitchen can actually be a good thing. Making mochi is hard work and involves using a wooden mallet to mash the steamed rice down to a smooth, sticky paste.

George Tanabe, a retired UH Manoa Professor Emeritus  from Waialua, holds his own mochitsuki, or mochi pounding, every year.  He describes the meaning behind the New Year’s custom.

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Sharon Fujino is a longtime Kaneohe resident. She anticipates more than a hundred family and friends will join her to ring in the New Year and help pound mochi. She remembers attending mochitsukis as a little girl and hopes the family tradition will continue for generations to come.

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If you are interested in attending a public mochi pounding, contact the Japanese Cultural Center for more information.

Full audio available here:

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(Molly Solomon / HPR News)