Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.273

on November 27, 2010

Along with many rather unpleasant memories of my childhood, I also have a few good ones about my family. New Year is the biggest holiday in Japan and two days prior to New Year’s Day, all my family would make ‘mochi’ every year, that is rice cake made from glutinous rice. That’s my family’s tradition passed for who-knew-how-many generations. As we used to make ‘mochi’ not only for our stock of food but also for offerings to shrines and temples and for gifts to our relatives, it took the whole day to finish making hundreds of them. My grandmother boiled glutinous rice over a kiln and my father put it in a wooden mortar and made it into rice cake by pounding with a heavy wooden mallet. My grandfather was sort of a ‘show runner’. The rest of my family- my mother, my sister and I- shaped the rice cake into small balls. Because New Year was so close, everybody was in a good mood and the usual tension between us went away for once. It used to be the happiest day spending with the whole family together for me. But even our long-survived tradition couldn’t stand a recent rapid change of time. The wooden mallet and mortar were replaced by a rice cake-cooking machine. The kiln by the gas stove. We needed a less amount of ‘mochi’, as our relatives got fewer, and the whole day work became unnecessary. I left home. My grandparents passed away. This is the way my happiest family event has disappeared…


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