Eating Mochi for the New Year

We’ve always felt it important to expose Otter to many different cultures and their customs.

Mark 16:15 – And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world…
Matthew 28:10 – Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…

In the past we’ve attended all types of festivals & events for the Basque, Portuguese, Sikhs, Mexicans, Italians, and others. I think the fact that we’ve focused on appreciating other cultures/people is what gave our daughter such a heart for the Japanese people and led her to a career path that may involve a future job in Tokyo! I know that Otter has had a lot of fun too, over the years, especially sampling cuisines from around the world.

Right before the new year, we got a taste (literally!) of the old-fashioned Japanese custom of making homemade mochi (pronounced mo-chee)!


Picture of mochi balls- Image credit: Wikipedia

Mochi is a rice “cake” that is formed from a short-grained rice and an important part of the Japanese New Year. It’s made from cooked rice pounded into a paste and then molded into balls. Sometimes the balls are filled with sweet azuki bean paste. We tried raw pieces sprinkled with sugar and topped with soy sauce and indulged in the pieces of “ahn” – mochi stuffed with chocolate-colored azuki. Yum!

In the nearby town of Livingston there is a group of people descended from the Yamoto Colony – Japanese who moved to California in the early 1900’s to farm the land. Their traditions still live on to this day during the annual mochi making day that’s been celebrated for decades.

We had a great time hanging out in the frosty morning air, watching and participating in the mochi-making. After a couple of hours, we took a bag of mochi home to celebrate the New Year!

Otter helping to pound the sticky rice paste into a smooth dough with a mallet:pounding mochi

Click here to see pictures my husband took for the Merced Sun-Star, as well as a video the Sun-Star posted of the event.

We are so fortunate to live in an area where there are so many traditions and cultures to share in and learn about first-hand!