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.