Mochi, the athletic Japanese dessert.
June 3, 2015

Mochi is a traditional Japanese dessert, made yearly in each neighborhood, made from native urchimai or “ordinary rice”. Uruchimai is sticky and white in nature.

In these pictures we see rice being steam hydrated and rinsed in bamboo trays.  Next the paste is struck repeatedly by wooden mallet hundred or so times, and turned between each strike.  Timing is important between the striker and the mochi turner to prevent injuries. Next, two or three mallet users turn the paste together to compact it for a few minutes.  Lastly a chef flavours the mochi in one of 6 traditional sweet flavourings.

Historically, nearby temples and martial arts dojos supplied labour for yearly mochi making as a sign of good faith and to promote goodwill towards residents and local officials of the district.  Below we see Yoshinkan Hombu dojo’s Takashima Saburo Jokyo taking first crack at the tiring task of hammering the mochi paste, and in the video, turning the mochi over while Geoff Maile Senshusei uses the mallet.

A word of warning to properly “chew” or masticate your fresh mochi before swallowing as many deaths are reported in Japan each year from asphyxiation, usually among the young and very old.


Takashima Jokyo and Senshusei of the Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo making mochi for the Oshiai district of Tokyo, 2007.
getting the rice ready
Mayor of Oshiai Ku getting the rice ready with apronned helper.
turning mochi
turning mochi
Takaskima Jokyo making mochi 2007
Takaskima Jokyo making mochi 2007
Line up for mochi at the Oshiai district of Tokyo, 2007.
Line up for mochi at the Oshiai district of Tokyo, 2007.

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  1. Hi Aimee, I found your blog through Twitter, I think. Love this old-fashioned mochi-making tritidaon and sad our Japanese community can’t do it you can imagine how hard it’d be to get a big, heavy pounding bowl shipped to the middle of the U.S. But, I look forward to the annual Shinnenkai at the Japanese Language School where they sell fresh mochi made in mochi-makers. And there’s always YouTube videos to watch the real thing done. Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!

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  3. There are generally two types of machines for mochi production in an assembly line. One machine prepares the dough while the other forms the dough into consistent shapes, unfilled or with filling. The first type of machine controls the temperature at which the rice gelatinizes. One study found that a temperature of 62 °C corresponds to the gelatinization of mochi. When the temperature fell below 62 °C the hardening was too slow.

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