Mochitsuki in your neighborhood?


Mochitsuki photo by Ivva

Mochitsuki (餅つき)is a New Year’s ritual in Japan, where people get together to pound some steamed ‘sweet’ or sticky rice into gooey, sticky mochi in a big wooden barrel. Nowadays most mochi is made mechanically, but this energetic manual pounding is still practiced all over Japan. (My aunt and uncle still do it, even though they are both in their 70s.) If you’ve never had a chance to see a Mochitsuki in action, it can be really fun, with just a small thrill of danger (the mochi turner’s hands could get crushed by the heavy hammer!)

This is the week to start looking for mochitsuki events where you are, even if you don’t live in Japan. For example, in London, Japan Centre will hold their annual Mochi Pounding event in-store on January 2nd from 12 midday at 212-213 Piccadilly. In San Francisco, there will be a big Mochitsuki festival complete with taiko (big drums) at the Asian Art Museum on January 3rd.

I haven’t been able to find a lot of info about mochitsuki events online that are current (I’ve found a lot of reports about past years’ events) so look in your local papers, Japanese societies, and so on to see what’s going on. (If you find out anything, please let us know in the comments!)

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Thanks for the heads up!

I am going to try to make the one in San Fransisco, my kids adore Mochi! It looks like a lot of work to make it traditionally, but fun! I’ve made the microwave kind with sweet rice flour, it would be cool to see it done this way. Not that I’m gonna try it at home! lol! Thanks again!

BarbJ | 29 December, 2008 - 21:48

mmm mmm mochi

The Asian Art Museum is walking distance from my house.

However, I get my mochi New Years Eve and broil it with kinako and shoyu. Benkyodo has been making mochi for 100 years and I always order it ahead of time.

Jeanie M | 30 December, 2008 - 00:48

A Pleasant Flashback

Watching my parents pound mochi in a wooden barrel on a new year’s eve is one of the most pleasant memories of my childhood. This was also the time we bonded as a family.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Sadao | 30 December, 2008 - 02:53

Nooo, I’m going to London

Nooo, I’m going to London (and the Japan Centre, naturally) this Sunday. So I will miss the mochi pounding. :(

There’s a game on Cooking Mama where you have to pound mochi without hitting the hand, it’s so fun. :D

I want to make my own mochi one day but it seems too difficult.

P.S Good luck for the New Year, Maki! Keep up the good work xx

Rachel | 30 December, 2008 - 17:59

mochi so good!

yeah, i get my mochi at benkyodo too. i don’t live far from it so i admit i go there just to pick up some yummy treats every so often…like after my shopping trip from nijiya market.

might have to check out that event at the Asian Art this year since i missed it last year.

grace | 30 December, 2008 - 22:04

Well what do you know?

Well what do you know? There’s a mochitsuki event in Portland on Jan 17. Tickets are $12.

I think I’ll be making mochi-bacon tonight…

homodachi | 31 December, 2008 - 02:22

Family Memories

My grandfather and uncle used to tell me that my great grandmother was the mochi turner at the mochitsuki and that she would run in between hammer strikes to flip the mochi. My uncle said that he was scared to death that she’d get hit but to my knowledge, she never did. Incidentally, I was really happy (and pretty lucky) to have found fresh mochi which is a bit of a rarity here in AZ. Now I’m stocked for New Year’s ozoni!

Reiko | 31 December, 2008 - 05:26

New York area

Every New Year our local Mitsuwa has mochi pounding, taiko, picking up oiled beans with hashi…

Pattie | 31 December, 2008 - 22:03

Mochitsuki in Japan

Back in 2004, when I was living abroad, a group of us gaijin went to the local Tanabata festival dressed in yukata and geta. I know that Tanabata is a midsummer festival, but they had mochitsuki there as well. We were students at JCMU, the Japan Center for Michigan Universities, and we attended the festival at Shiga Daigaku in Hikone, the same town we lived in.

I was asked to try my hand at mochitsuki, and I had the pleasure of pounding the mochi for about 5 minutes, and my arms were killing me! I got into the local paper because of that, actually. That was the beginning of my love of mochi, especially when rolled in kinako.

DGibb | 2 January, 2009 - 19:10


I remember we did this once back at home in Hawaii… I’m fourth generation Japanese-American so it’s not done too often… My late grandmother, who was like 2-feet tall, was commenting about the lack of physical strength of the men as they wielded the mallets… “Back on the plantation, the men were more strong… nowadays… sigh…”


Ol’ granny!

Pam | 4 January, 2009 - 01:29


Thanks to your article I found out about one in my area (well an hours train ride away) and got to go! I even got a taster :D

Thanks for the article!

The crazy rat lady @

Foxxy_leigh | 7 January, 2009 - 17:30

Re: Mochitsuki in your neighborhood?

Did you know that mochitsuki is a metaphor for making love, at least according to some Japanese dictionaries (koujien).

Timothy Takemoto | 8 August, 2012 - 06:40

Re: Mochitsuki in your neighborhood?

Great Article!
More Japanese New Years Events including Mochitsuki events!


Maya | 22 December, 2012 - 03:48

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