Things are starting to become very predictable here.... I just checked the archives of last year's blog entries and.... that's right on exactly the same day last year we did exactly the same thing. In fact my husband's family has probably been making sticky rice cakes on December 30th since before the invention of electricity! (it is not possible to make them on the 29th as any day with a nine in it is bad luck...).
Anyway, for anyone who missed last year's blog entry here is a run down on what happens on mochi making day - at our house anyway. Of course with virtually identical photos to last year too!
First the rice is soaked over night (note - the rice is different to normal rice eaten every day in that it is even shorter grained and therefore even stickier....). It is then steamed in a big pot over a fire before being transferred to the pounding machine thingy (similar to a bread kneading machine really) where it is bashed around until it resembles a big sticky blob.
It is then immediately shaped into balls (as this is Japan there is no sitting at tables... squatting on the floor is more appropriate....) and placed on a big tray to dry out. Although it is really sticky to begin with it quickly turns into a very hard thing that you wouldn't want to try and eat unless you had a jack hammer in your mouth. Fortunately as soon as you put it in hot soup or put it under the grill it goes back to its originally sticky stuff - preventing broken teeth, but still giving your jaws a bit of a work out.
There are some made with special sweet beans inside too that have a kind of grass beaten in with them, but this years one's were a little bit of a disaster.... something about not chopping the grass fine enough.
Anyone interested in participating in next year's event... I can almost guarantee that if you are here on the 30th of December you will be more than welcome to help!