The traditional New Year menu is called Osechi. The Osechi menu varies between regions, and can include Ozoni (miso soup with mochi and vegetables), Kobumaki (kelp-rolls), Kuromame (sweetened black beans) and others. However, the most common Osechi dish is Kinako mochi symbolizing good luck.
The visit to The Japanese Cultural Centre was a fun and interesting experience. A strong and unusual rhythm played on Taiko drums by young and old drummers, made waiting in a food lineups pleasant. Regular unsweetened rice cakes (marumochis) were the obvious crowd favourite, among Onigiris, Inaris and variety of Manju sweets. We liked the sweets that were filled with sweet been paste (daifuku).
The culmination of the celebration was Mochisuki-Mochi mass pounding. After cooked, hot rice was brought on a tray to two huge stone mortars (usu), one for kids and other for adults, a group of adult men began folding, light punching and then pounding the mass. Then, anyone with a desire to do the same could take turns pounding the Mochi using huge wooden mallets (kine). My kids and I gladly took part in the pounding. The stronger the punch, the faster the rice would be ready for cake molding.
|Bringing of the hot rice|
|I did my part|