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Japanese tradition continues at Livingston church

Japanese tradition continues at Livingston church

Women of the Livingston United Methodist Church pinch off small balls of mochi in 2011.

POSTED December 23, 2013 5:39 p.m.

Every December, the Livingston United Methodist Church brings in hundreds of community members and volunteers for its annual Mochitsuki ceremony, a Japanese New Year’s tradition that requires many hours of physical labor for the pounding of rice cakes.

The making of the sweet pounded rice cakes, called mochi, has been a Japanese tradition for centuries as communities come together to celebrate the New Year in Japan. Although it is hard work, many Japanese Americans continue the tradition as a time to socialize and spend time with friends and family.

The all-day process begins with the soaking of mochigome, short-grain sweet rice, for two days in large kettles. After being steamed, the rice is processed into a paste and then pounded with mallets and a grinder before being shaped into dumplings.  Once covered with corn starch to make sure the mochi does not stick, volunteers and church members then dust off the dumplings as the final touch.

 “Mochi Tsuki is an interesting Japanese tradition,” said Kristy Hardwick of the Livingston United Methodist Church. “Anyone who would like to observe will be welcome.”

According to Hardwick, the best time to see everything in full action will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The annual mochitsuki ceremony at the Livingston United Methodist Church will be held on Dec. 28. To purchase the rice cakes, advanced orders must be placed before Dec. 27. The mochi can be purchased for $4 a pound for plain mochi, and $1.50 for a piece of Ahn Mochi.

Orders can be placed by calling the church office between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Monday through Friday at 394-2264. Orders can also be placed on the message machine by leaving your name, address and phone number.

All orders will be ready for pick-up from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday only in the Pioneer Hall at the Livingston United Methodist Church, located at 11695 Olive Avenue in Livingston.

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