Over the wintry 2008 new year I went on a skiing trip with Takeshi, Kojima and Ros in Gunma （群馬）prefecture, where Takeshi’s hometown is. North of Tokyo, Gunma is a quiet, largely agricultural area, ( home to Mount Akagi, where the folks in the manga Initial D duked out their drift races. ) an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo city and I have been there once every year since 2004. See here and here.
Shortly after we arrived at Takeshi’s parents’ place in Takasaki, Gunma we were promptly put to the task of Mochitsuki (餅つき）by Takeshi’s parents. Mochitsuki is a traditional Japanese new year ceremony of sorts where glutinous rice is pounded with a wooden mallet in a mortar to make Mochi, a sticky Japanese rice cake.
The rice paste needs to be flipped and moistened repeatedly as it is pounded to achieve a smooth, even texture, as Kojima-chan above illustrates. Takeshi ( in the black down jacket ) works hard.
I also had a shot at it, and its a whole lot harder than it looks ! The readied Mochi is served in a variety of flavors, like red bean paste, soya sauce with grinded radish ( ew!), or Kinako ( sweet soyabean powder, my favourite. )
After that we chilled out in the house and made some arrangements for tomorrow’s ski trip, ie ski equipment reservations while Takeshi’s mother prepared a sumptous dinner for us.