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Livingston church comes together for Mochi Tsuki
mochi pic1
Livingston United Methodist Church members pound the mochi rice right after it was taken out of the grinder in December 2011. - photo by Journal file photo

Every December for the past 36 years, members of the Livingston United Methodist Church spend a day recreating a Japanese New Year's tradition — Mochi Tsuki, or rice pounding.

The process begins by soaking sweet rice for two days. On Saturday, the rice will be washed and then transported to a grinder to help with the pounding process.

Two people then pound the rice as one person rotates it during the process. The rice is then rolled into balls.

“Most people from Japan have never seen this because there are machines that make mochi now,” said Pastor Bob Kuyper at last year's event. “This is the old way of doing it before the machines. It keeps the Japanese tradition alive.”

In Japan, the mochi is usually taken to a  shrine and it is supposed 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.

It's not too late to order some New Year's mochi. The church is taking orders through Thursday; the price is $4 a pound for plain mochi and $1.50 a piece for ahn mochi. Orders can be placed by calling the church from 9 a.m. to 12 noon today or Thursday at 394-2264. Orders will be ready for pick-up from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. only on Saturday. The church is located at 11695 W. Olive Ave., Livingston.