Mochitsuki: Making Mochi with Monks for Japanese New Year

Japan by Food -- Jan 02
A Japanese New Year tradition, Shizuka learns all about mochitsuki (mochi making) at Enpukuji Temple in Chiba Prefecture with the help of the head monk, Ibaraki.

Mochitsuki is usually reserved for special occasions like anniversaries and the New Year, and is symbolic of community and togetherness as it cannot be done alone.

Usually, people use white rice to make mochi, but in the Monoi City area, unpolished rice called “genmai” is often used as well. In particular, they use a type of green rice called “midori mai,” which is extremely rare in Japan. The green rice at Enpukuji is grown using pesticide-free and organic farming methods. It is said to have benefits like helping to lower cholesterol levels.

Rice is considered a sacred food in Japan (mochi and sake are particularly significant). Mochi appears in many Japanese New Year foods from “ozoni” mochi soup to “kagami mochi.”