Mochi, Mochi, Mochi

Not Just a Japanese New Year Tradition

Food is such an integral and fascinating part of any travel, but especially in Japan. One thing we always do is walk through a grocery store to see the types of things people are eating.  In fact, if we are going to bring home anything from a trip, it’s most likely going to be some candy or food.  When Jim and I traveled to Iceland, we brought home all the condiments and fixing for hot dogs!

So what are those creamy white and forest green balls of goo on sticks?  It’s called mochi!  My youngest daughter loved it the first time we traveled to Japan when she was eight, and she’s been trying all kinds of mochi ever since.

Mochi Japan

Mochi are rice balls.  Hard to bite into, chewy, glutinous blobs of sugary rice.  Many times they are dipped in a sauce, like in the photo above.  The brown ones have been dipped in teriyaki sauce making them a more savory than sweet choice.  Honestly, I’m not a fan, but like I said Erika loves them.  You can find mochi balls all over Japan, at every festival as well as many street vendors.

Many traditional foods have good luck properties and for mochi the family is bringing on the characteristics of flexibility and endurance.  These are such sought after personality traits, that many families eat at least one serving of mochi with every meal, replacing the normal rice, for the first week of the Japanese new year.

During the Japanese New Year traditions, all the schools and many of the towns pound mochi to bring them good luck.  A large wooden bucket is brought out with a huge wooden mallet. If you get a chance to pound some mochi this coming new year, do it!  It definitely teaches you a lesson in endurance as your muscles start to ache. The cooked rice is put into the bowl and pounded and pounded, usually with many people taking turns, until it is ground into a thick paste.  The mochi is then shared.

Have you ever tried mochi?  What do you think?



17 thoughts on “Mochi, Mochi, Mochi”

  1. I tried mochi, and now I know what I tried! I really didn’t know what I was eating at the time, but it was a savory variety, and I went back for more. By the way, we are right across the street from the real food market in Florence at Mercado San Ambrogio. I agree. Checking out the food is a wonderful way to start a couple week’s exploration of the city.

  2. While I have never tried mochi, my daughter walked by while I was reading this, “Oh, yummy, I love that stuff!” Apparently she has had it dipped in a peanut butter sauce.

  3. I think we ate it not knowing what it was. There was something similar sitting atop a Machi Icecream Cone. Also ate something similar given to us in a restaurant. A bit of a non-event tastewise. :)

  4. Sophie @ Sophie's World

    Never tried mochi, but it sounds very interesting.. though the savoury variety perhaps not so much.

  5. I have not tried Mochi but as the old saying goes, “Don’t knock it until you try it…” I would give one a taste. Doesn’t sound too appealing but maybe one with just the right flavor would work! I laughed at you bringing condiments home for hotdogs….because I would bring the hotdogs themselves, Corinne! :)

  6. Love this!! I’ve got my mochi post queued up as well since this weekend I’ll be attending a local mochi pounding event for the New Years!

    1. Beth, LOL…Mochi is a post right up your alley. I’ll look forward to your photos of the mochi ceremony. I loved pounding it, well, at least for the first five minutes. Then it started to hurt. Are you bulking up?

  7. So interesting, didn’t know what Mochi was although i had heard the word before. I’m very much into Japanese food these days and being in London, UK is great as all types of food are easily available. I just love sushi… maybe i’ll try Mochi if i find them :)
    How’s Germany treating you guys these days?

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