Is the Mochi Ready Yet?
Ring in the New Year by pounding mochi.
Photo: Chelsea Akamine
One of the sounds that rings in the new year in Hawai‘i is the rhythmic pounding of mochi, sweet glutinous rice cakes that are first steamed, then pounded in an annual ritual known as mochitsuki. While this Japanese treat can be bought year-round in the Islands, it’s most often consumed during holidays and special occasions, particularly around New Year’s Day. The traditional—and more labor-intensive—way of making mochi involves pounding steamed rice with an usu (mortar) and kine (wooden mallet), turning these cakes into perfect orbs for ozoni or as offerings to the gods for good luck in the coming year.