Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mochitsuki Festival

I volunteered at Mochitsuki today. It is the Japanese New Year and they had a lot of things going on. They had booths set up for local clubs: Anime, Go (a cool looking game), magnet schools, abacus schools, a spot to make cat ears and many more things. They also had food popping up all over the place. I ate sushi, Kalau pork and cabbage bento (Hawaiian), and shrimp tempura. Amazingly enough at Mochitsuki they had mochi. What is Mochi? It is a sweetened rice cake. Sticky rice is taken and pounded into a dough like consistency using a wooden mallet. Watching the demonstration of the traditional way to do it was pretty fascinating. It required skill and timing because as one person smacks away with a mallet another person flips the hot rice over. So they work as a team in perfect rhythm to avoid cracking skulls. When it is at the right consistency they start pinching off small pieces for people to try. They provided free samples and each sample had 3 choices of pairing; sweet bean paste, soy sauce or soybean powder. My favorite was the sweet bean paste.

Besides the various booths, food and mochi pounding demonstration they had local community groups putting on little shows. They had hula girls, a swing band, karate demonstrations, a Taiko demonstration (drumming) and other groups. They also put together a show you paid to watch that had taiko drumming, folk dance and a storyteller. The show was worth paying 12 bucks for. The drumming alone was worth it but the storyteller, Alton Chung, was great and added a great dimension. Alton Chung even taught me the word Onara....

Either way I helped with the community stage and also the clean up a little. At least, I was helping when I was not talking, eating and enjoying the performances. I will definitely put this on my calendar and hope to make it back next year.

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