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Church pounds out New Year's tradition

Mochitsuki 2013

The Livingston United Methodist Church continued a Japanese New Year's tradition on December 28 with the annual mochitsuki, or pounding of the rice cakes.

POSTED December 30, 2013 5:04 p.m.

A Japanese New Year's tradition was continued on Saturday at the Livingston United Methodist Church, with the annual mochitsuki —or pounding of the rice cakes.

In Japan, mochi is traditionally made for New Year's and then stacked at a shrine to bring good luck. But this church doesn’t stack up their fresh made mochi next to a shrine. They make it and sell it for others to eat for their New Year’s celebrations.

Church member Sherman Kishi remembers making mochi back in the 1930s at a neighbor’s home in Livingston. The tradition at the church started in the 1980s.

"It's really fun because I see some people only now, only this day every year... people come from out of town to help out, families gather; it's really a great event for us," said Kiyono Kishi, who has been helping with mochitsuki for about 30 years.

The process begins by soaking the rice for two days before the mochitsuki. The rice is then put in wooden steaming frames and placed over a barrel of boiling water for about 30 minutes. It is then transported over to a grinder to help with the pounding process.

Two people then rhythmically  pound the rice with mallets, as one person helps turn the rice in between the pounding. The rice is then rolled into balls.

The church made over 900 mochi balls on Saturday.

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