JASDF hosts Mochitsuki ceremony
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Wooden mallets, stone mortars and rice may seem like a unique mix, but in the Japanese culture this trio has been part of a tradition for more than a millennium. Members of Team Yokota gathered to celebrate a Japanese tradition through Mochitsuki, a mochi pounding event, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Dec. 10, 2015.
Mochitsuki is often performed by traditional, rural, or wealthier households in preparation for New Year celebrations. It can also be performed at any time throughout the year, and is often part of local festivals and celebrations.
"As this year has almost come to an end, I hope we'll deepen our friendly ties as we pound mochi together," said Col. Shuichi Kamada, Japan Air Self-Defense Force Operations Support Wing commander. "Eating Mochi is not only delicious, it is also said to invigorate us."
The Mochitsuki ceremony began with members of the JASDF and U.S. Air Force coming together to pound rice in a stone mortar until it became a soft, chewy paste called mochi. As the rice is pounded, two people will alternate the work, one pounding and the other turning and wetting the mochi.
After the mochi is pounded, it is then broken down into smaller pieces and formed into various shapes. People who make Mochi often add items such as sweets, sugar or coat the treat with toasted soy bean powder prior to being consumed.
The ceremony brought members of Yokota together to enjoy a Japanese tradition while strengthening cultural ties.
"This event gave us the opportunity to engage with our Japanese counterparts and do something out of the office on a more social basis," said Capt. Selina Dellafosse, 5th Air Force deputy director for manpower and personnel office. "This has helped me learn more about the Japanese culture while enjoying freshly made mochi."