Eating mochi (pounded rice) on New Year’s Day is a tradition in Japan but in order to have mochi to eat for the new year, someone has to make it. Today, it’s easy enough to buy mochi from any supermarket or convenience store or make it in a machine. But traditionally, mochi would need to be pounded from rice using large wooden hammers and a large bowl made of wood or stone. Though considerably hard work, some families or groups enjoy continuing the tradition as it fosters teamwork and harmony among participants (as long as nobody’s hands get smashed with a stray hammer). And nothing beats the fruits of your labor in a hot bowl of ozoni (traditional New Year’s soup) or toasted and wrapped in nori (roasted seaweed).

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