Hi Fellow Mochi Lovers,
We greatly appreciate your interest and support of the very successful Florin Mochitsuki on January 3rd. 150 of us enjoyed the fun traditions of Mochi Madness II so vital for our community's and culture's continued strength.
Tacked on below below and also with lots of neat photos in the attachment is an article on the event. We're also attaching an updated Mochi Tips and Recipes so you can enjoy mochi treats year-around.
For those interested in supporting meaningful events like this, information on joining the groups that made it possible - the Florin Dharma School, Buddhist Women's Association, and Florin JACL - is also included.
Thank you for support and involvement. If you'd like to help on this or other events in the future, please let us know. We could always use your help.
“Mochi Madness II”
Florin’s Mochitsuki: A Smashing Good Time!
By Andy Noguchi
Celebration, Culture, and Community! Over 150 fun-seeking mochi-lovers (plus a few uninitiated and the curious) converged on the Buddhist Church of Florin January 3rd for an old-school hand-pounding mochi workshop and potluck social for the sweet rice cake delicacies. This second-year Mochi Madness event was organized by the Florin JACL, Florin Dharma School, and Buddhist Women’s Association.
In the “3 Cs” of Mochitsuki (mochi-pounding), it was an exciting Celebration of the New Year, a revival of an ebbing Cultural tradition among Japanese Americans, and a Community-building get-together. True to New Year’s custom, people enjoyed the myriad taste-tempting mochi treats, hung out with friends – both old and new, and even jump started the year with a heart-thumping mochi-pounding workout, all to the rhythm of Jennifer Kubo’s taiko drum beat.
The Mochi Madness crowd kept growing, growing, and then growing more. Last year’s group of 50 swelled to over 150. Word of last year’s fun-fest had spread. Don’t know how Heidi Sakazaki and Utako Kimura kept up with the flood of registrations.
Young People had a Blast
The younger generation, given a rare chance to pound and make mochi, got a big kick out of the hands-on experience. Teenagers plus college students home on winter break seemed to relish a chance to whack away with a huge wooden mallet. No parental cautions about being “too rough” or “breaking something”, except for protecting Stan Umeda’s and Sam Morishima’s experienced mochi-turning hands.
The little ones gleefully wielded the mini- mallets (or even the econo size). Making the flour-covered mochi cakes and sweet azuki bean filled An Mochi was better than Playdough. Mochi is fun, safe - and delicious too! Parents and grandparents captured dozens of “Kodak moments”.
Not to be outdone, the Nisei (2nd) and Sansei (3rd) generations remembered how entire families in the distant past commonly pounded mochi each New Year’s. Even a few Yonsei (4th) generation, like my college-age daughter Annie Kim Noguchi, shared the Hatamiya family get-together on Uncle Roy’s farm in Marysville. As a little one, she ran around having great fun and eating mochi, while older relatives did the heavy work of pounding, making, and cooking.
Masters of Mochi and TastyTreats
The pounding workshop was deftly organized thanks to “mochi master” Stan Umeda with his 1930s family usu (stone mortar). Stan has the cooking process down to a science – “60 pounds of mochi rice makes 1,000 mochi cakes”. Terry Nishizaki plus John Kanemoto and Devin Yoshikawa, cooking assistants from CSUS, provided the vital backup.
Taste-tempting mochi treats were prepared by chef-extraordinaire Fumie Shimada, assisted by Sam and Howard Shimada. Fumie makes a great ozoni New Year’s mochi soup – oiishi (delicious)! Toasted mochi with kinako or shoyu/sugar sauce? May Morishima was at the ready with her toaster oven. The hot zenzai (sweet azuki bean soup) with fresh mochi hit the spot on that cold, misty winter day. I’d never cooked so much azuki in my life.
Dozens of hands-on mochi makers lined the two large stainless steel covered tables. Christine Umeda, Alma Murata, Ruth Seo, Twila Tomita, and many others organized the crew – cranking out mochi balls with a mochi-cutting machine or pinching them off in traditional style. The benefit to making the mochi was you could easily pop a fresh one in your mouth.
We even made the kasane (stacked) or kagami (mirror) mochi with tangerine on top often used in homes and Buddhist altars. Through the help of friends from Japan , we learned a fuller story about them symbolizing hopes for generation after generation.
Dharma School Parents and B.W.A. Take Charge
The Buddhist Women’s Association (Judie Miyao, Lois Tanaka, Lois Kashiwase, and others) had those azuki bean balls of An at the ready for folding into the tasty An Mochi. Once all the treats were made, Ron Okimura had the mochi racks ready to lay out for cooling.
The potluck, kitchen, and multi-purpose room were organized by a crack team of Dharma School parents and Buddhist Women’s Association members. Their knowledge of the facilities and experience were indispensable. Appreciation goes to Kris Miller, Margie Sunahara, Cindy & Kenny Kakutani, Walter Menda, and many, many others. The potluck dishes were scrumptious and hit the spot, especially after a mochi pounding workout.
Kazuyo “origami crane” Morishita, “Have paper, will travel”, displayed the impressive 1,000 multi-colored cranes symbolizing efforts for peace and opened an origami paper folding table for m any to enjoy. The kids got a special kick at trying their hands.
The prize for coming from the furthest away goes to Alatansha, an agriculture student from Inner Mongolia and Japan studying at U.C. Davis. Professor Emeritus Isao Fujimoto brought Alatansha to enjoy the mochi tradition, taking a turn at pounding, making, and tasting. Since none of us spoke Mongolian, glad that several Japanese speakers like Madeline Kubo and others made him feel welcome at the fun community tradition of Mochi Madness II.
Thanks for your support and catch you next year!
Mochi Tips and Recipes: Check out the cool tips and tasty recipes for mochi (sweet sticky rice) dishes from around the world. This one attached has some updates from last year’s version.
Mochi Madness Recipes
Mochi Madness II
Florin JACL Membership Form
Special Thanks: We appreciate the generous efforts of the many organizers and volunteers for this great community event: Stan & Christine Umeda; Fumie, Sam & Howard Shimada; Myrna Hitomi; Walter Menda; Terry Nishizaki; Heidi Sakazaki; Utako Kimura; Judie & George Miyao; Ron Okimura, Jennifer & Steve Kubo; Devin Yoshikawa; John Kanemoto; May & Sam Morishima; Ruth Seo; Patty Sanui; Kazuyo Morishita; Marielle Tsukamoto; Kathy Otagiri; Kris Miller; Margie Sunahara; Alma Murata; Cindy & Kenny Kakutani; Lois Kashiwase; Annie Kim Noguchi; Twila Tomita; and many other members of the Florin Dharma School / Buddhist Women’s Association and Florin JACL (sorry if I missed someone).
Photos: Photos shared by Steve Kubo, George Miyao, Helen Plenert, Karen Kurasaki, Twila Tomita, Kathy Otagiri and others.
Please Support our Sponsors: The Florin Dharma School and Buddhist Women’s Association involve themselves in many worthwhile community projects like this. You can find out more information about them at: www.florinbuddhist.com
Joining and getting involved in the Florin JACL is also appreciated. The Florin JACL has many interesting, diverse programs each year about cultural, civil rights, youth, scholarship, multi-racial, women’s, peace, Japanese American experience and history, and an annual three-day pilgrimage to the former WWII internment camp at Manzanar National Park. See www.florinjacl.com for more information. A form for Florin JACL membership for new members (or those who forgot to renew the past years) is also attached.
Lost and Found: A few people got so caught up in tasting the mochi they forgot to take their dishes home. These include a large red salad bowl, small tupperware-type salad dressing container, and a metal rice pot.
Please contact Andy Noguchi (916) 978-6121 or
if you wish to pick them up.