I hope you all had some happy holidays, and a happy new year! I know it’s a little late to say….but I hope all is well. Every year around New Years, I go to this event called motchisuki and someone told me that they wished they had known about it, because its such a well kept secret. So I thought, I would share to you all what it’s about! On New Year’s Eve I was at Tanaka Farms, celebrating motchisuki.
Tanaka Farms is located in Irvine, California, and hosts multiple events every year. They are the home to seasonal pumpkin patches, wagon rides, and basketball leagues, and are in fact the largest organic farm in Orange County. It is Japanese tradition to eat mochi on New Year’s because it represents good luck. So every year before New Year’s Japanese people gather around in order make the delicious mochi to enjoy, to ensure a prosperous new year. First, they make the mochi. That’s right, make it. No cheating. No buying it from the store, or using those cheap machines to make it. They make it by hand!
First, they cook the rice in these big rice makers:
They put tons of rice in these earns and steam it, in order to ensure the rice is hot when it’s time for pound.
The rice is then pounded in huge granite like bowls called an usu. People gather around the usus and pound the rice using kines. Kines are these huge wooden malletes, that weigh about 5 pounds. Everyone circles the usu, and proceed to beat the rice continually, until it develops a sort of pasty/doughy consistency. The excercise is great for ridding all your problems, and stress in the world. After the rice is pounded, it is thrown down a huge table covered in flour, to help roll the rice dough in, so that it becomes ready to make.
The event also has Japanese dancers that come in and do a traditional Japanese dance. Also, one of the BEST parts about coming to motchisuki is the HUGE buffet table they have.
This year they had 3 long tables, filled with all kinds of food that you could eat! Absolutely delicious! Usually everyone comes and just brings one dish for some people to eat, but there’s still so much food! So you receive a reward after all that hard pounding in the usu! After the buffet and everything is about over, you can go to a table to buy the mochi. The profits help out the farm. After making the mochi, everyone gathers around and has a flour fight with the rest of the flour! It’s really fun! Over Christmas, I had to read the first four chapters of the book Frankenstein.
In the original book by Mary Shelley (if you haven’t read it). The creature (yes the creature is the monster, not the scientist, the scientist’s name is Victor Frankenstein), is forced to strut the Earth alone because he has been abandoned by his creator. I’m not that far in yet, so I don’t really know what is yet to happen, but I wonder where the creature went, but I feel he must be sad, because he is forced to be alone. I feel if he had a companion or a sense of community, he wouldn’t feel so lonely.
I think that motchisuki at Tanaka Farms creates a sense of community, that the creature needed, as well as others. It creates a great environment for getting to know each other, and build an appreciation of all the sweat and energy that goes into making mochi. I hope you all had a great New Years! Come by next year for some delicious mochi and fun! 🙂 Happy making mochi!