Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stress relief?

Japan seems to have developed some great ways for people to release stress. One of them is the traditional Japanese custom of making sticky rice cakes by pounding the cooked rice until it is a sticky blob. I have posted about "mochi making" before where we used modern technology to beat the rice, but today we reverted to the traditional method of literally bashing the cooked rice with wooden mallets at my son's kindergarten. Although it is traditional for the men to do the smashing and the women to do the shaping afterwards I can see that for stressed mothers it would also be a great activity to relieve a bit of tension. Today it was down to the fathers and children though and they all did a great job. Usually they have about 3 people all pounding the same bowl of rice at the same time so the coordination between the 3 is very important. There is then another person who puts extra water on the rice to stop it sticking - this is done while the mallets are still coming down so whoever draws the short straw or anyone who has particularly quick hands gets that job.
Over the new year my parents-in-law told us stories about how in the past everyone got together to make mochi at new year - starting at about 4am and pounding away a total of more than 60kg of rice over a whole day. They would then store the mochi and use them all year long in soups etc. Thank goodness for the invention of mochi making machines and other delicacies which reduce the need for too many of these sticky little balls!
This was the last big event for the PTA at kindy so I am looking forward to giving up my reign as chairperson in the very near future. A word to anyone who is being bullied into doing this kind of job.... don't do it!


  1. You're PTA head? Otsukaresama!

    i love watching the rhythm between the rice pounder and the rice wetter, it's mesmerising!

    Is that your son and his classmates? He's so much taller than them!

  2. I've been to one of those massive mochi-pounding days at someone's house, though there were so many relatives hanging around and helping out that I figured they were all going to take some home. Still, there was A LOT of mochi.

    I wouldn't like to see what that 'year's worth' of mochi was looking like in November. Seems to me that mochi starts getting moudly very quickly.

  3. Mochi pounding could well be an alternative to cup throwing. May have to introduce mochi making events all year round!!

    Masaki is sooo much taller!

    See you soon :)

  4. Interesting - this may be something I could use with my classes this year.... I mean from a studying cultural perspective, not practicing the technique on them!!

  5. Sorry - I keep forgetting to reply to comments... I do read them of course!
    To the fukases... yes, I am the stupid PTA chairperson - I was voted in while I was taking a 3 month break in New Zealand. Gotta love that! And yes, the tall one is my son...and yes, they are his classmates. My husband is 190cm tall so my son is likely to always be the tallest in the class!
    Jo - I'll write to you right now...