The ELC New Year’s Mochi Pounding Tradition

Jean Caskey (ELC director) writes on how the ELC welcomed 2017 by celebrating New Year’s traditions. One such tradition is Mochi Pounding Day, which our students have looked forward to each year for nearly 40 years.


Every January, as we move into the new year here at the ELC, we take the time to recognize, honor and celebrate New Year’s traditions with children, teachers and parents. One such tradition is Mochi Pounding Day. We begin preparation days before the event when students and teachers read about how to make authentic mochi and made observations about the rice—noting characteristics such as size, color and feel.  Everyone then took turns washing the polished, glutinous rice and then letting it soak overnight.

With the rice prepared, the entire ELC once again welcomed Kanie-san and his three associates from the Azabu-Juban Neighborhood Association. The students donned happi coats (traditional festival attire), joined their parents and, with the help of our visitors, came together to pound the steamed rice to chants of “yosho! yosho! yosho!” We made easy work of the typically laborious task of pounding the rice until it was soft and smooth.

The parents then helped cut the fresh mochi into little pieces. The students molded and topped the pieces of mochi with flavors such as anko (red bean paste), kinako (soybean flour) and nori (seaweed). Classes kept record of pieces eaten and their favorite flavors. Most children liked kinako the best.

A huge thanks to all of the parents who volunteered their time to make this another successful event at the ELC. If you would to learn more about our New Year’s mochi pounding tradition, check out some of the ELC class Blogs: Kyla and Kathleen’s kindergarten class blogJulie and Bushra’s pre-K class blog, Nami and Alicia’s nursery class blog, and Natalie and Debbie’s nursery class blog.

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