To celebrate the New Year, we had the opportunity to attend a mochi-tsuki party. Mochi is a traditional food eaten during shogatsu (Japanese New Years). First, they soak the rice overnight. Then, the special kind of sticky rice is cooked. After it is cooked, the rice is dumpped it into big carved out wooden bowls. Next, we took BIG heavy wooden mallets and pounded the rice with a little bit of water. We pummeled the rice until it was a very sticky smooth substance. Usually the men do this job, but because we were learning of the tradition, we all had a chance to pound away! It was quite therapeutic and a good bicep workout, I must say! After pounding the rice to smithereens, we took the mochi over to the table where the women shaped it into balls. We used corn starch with our plastic gloves because it was so sticky! We rolled the balls in various things like fermented soy beans, and stuffed the insides with different bean pastes and cheeses. We also made ozoni soup with some of the mochi. The soup was made with broth, meat, veggies, and mochi. The Americans brought homemade bread, and we feasted on the ozoni soup, fresh picked mandarine oranges, and mochi rice cakes. I enjoyed the soup and the oranges the most. In fact, I discovered that I am not such a fan of mochi. Kennedy was already very familiar with mochi. Her Japanese teacher uses it as a reward in her Japanese class at school. The Japanese teacher mochi rice cakes are filled with a sweet red bean paste. That was probably the best, if I had to pick one. Nathan loved the ozoni soup, and downed a whole bowl before Brain had much of a chance at any! They were supposed to “share”!
Along with making mochi, we shared in a few fun Japanese games. Kennedy found a friend who was more than willing to devote herself to teaching Kennedy how to walk on the takeuma stilts (meaning, bamboo horse). Nathan was fascinated with the metal hoops and hooks. I was a little freaked out, but he only got hooked in the lip once by another child while playing the hoop rolling game. I consider that pretty lucky! He was very pleased with his bloody lip any way! We had a great time learning more about the Japanese traditions and celebrations. With much of the day left, we headed over to a local park with a great Japanese style playground. This included a roller-slide for sure! Unfortunately, I think most of the park pictures are still on my phone, so those will have to be added at a later time!