Mochi is a rice cake made of glutinous rice. When it is hot, it’s sticky and can be made into different shapes. When it is cooled down, it becomes hard and preservable, which is usually moulded into round shape or square shape.
The traditional way to make mochi is called “mochitsuki” which steam the rice first and pound the rice repeatedly. Making mochi usually takes two people, who pounds the mochi with stamp, and the other who turns it upside down with bare hands. Most of the time when mochi is pounded by hands using stamp and mortar, it is made on auspicious occasions, such as new years celebration, religious services, and seasonal festivities.
On new years, “kagami-mochi,” which is a one with smaller round one placed on top of larger round mochi, is offered to deity, and displayed at homes. January 11th is the day of “kagami-biraki” which means opening the mirror, when people breaks the “kagami-mochi” into small pieces to eat and cerebrate the new year.
On girl’s day, March 3rd, “hishi-mochi,” a pink, white, and green rhombus shaped one, is displayed to cerebrate the young girl’s growth and happiness, along side with hina dolls. The pink color represents the peach blossom, the green color represents the spring sprouts, and the white color represents the remaining snow.
Mochi can be cooked in different ways such as baking or boiling. When it is baked and put on soy source and seaweed, it’s called “isobe-yaki.” When it is boiled with sweet beans, it’s called “oshiruko.” Mochi is also used for confectionaries. “Dango” is rolls mochi into small balls, pierce with stick, and cover with sweet bean paste or sweet soy sauce. “Ichigo-daifuku” uses mochi to cover sweet bean paste and strawberry.