While New York City prepares for its annual ball drop to herald in the new year, preparation for the Japanese New Year began in Aiea Sunday with the pounding of mochi.
The 10th annual Aiea Hongwanji Mission mochi pounding was open to the public, as people came to pound out the hot, glutinous rice. Everyone chipped in to help mold it into balls, some filled with azuki, or sweet red bean paste.
The mission doesn’t charge, but instead just asks for a donation.
“We buy 200 pounds of mochi rice, we soak ‘em for two days, then we have all the equipment set up before hand,” said Ito Kurasaki. “Then at eight this morning, we started pounding.”
Reverend Kosho Yagi said that “in Japan, kagami mochi is to offer to the Kamisama, Japanese god or Buddha, and people eat it after they offer. People eat hoping for good fortune or health.”
The Reverend said some of the mochi will be placed at the altar for the mission’s New Year’s Day service Thursday, January 1. The rest, he said, is good eaten either in soup called ozoni, grilled with shoyu and sugar, or with kinako, toasted soybean flour.