On December 30, 2013, the AADAP family held the annual Mochitsuki event at the Therapeutic Community (TC). Mochitsuki, a Japanese annual end of the year custom, is the pounding of mochi or rice cakes that is celebrated by many Japanese families and communities. Mochi is essential to the “Oshogatsu” or New Year’s celebration. The all-day Mochitsuki event requires multiple hands, long hours and physical labor.
During the celebration, family and friends once again strengthen their bond with one another. Mochitsuki starts with soaking and cooking mochigome or sweet glutinous rice for several hours. After the rice is cooked, it gets dumped into the usu or mortar, which is made from stone. The hot cooked rice in the usu is pounded with a wooden mallet used by strong and enthusiastic AADAP family members until the mass of rice becomes smooth and shiny! We then have volunteers cover small pieces of the mochi in flour and shape them like cookies, ready to eat.
There were a variety of ways to eat mochi including with peanut powder, grilled and covered in soy sauce and cooked in delicious Ozoni. Ozoni is a hot mochi soup cooked with vegetables and other foods. Japanese families eat Ozoni as the first meal, as it ensures the coming of a Happy New Year.
These traditional customs and foods should help bring all a happy, healthy and fulfilling year in 2014.