Mochi pounding passed on through the generations

Published On: Dec 31 2012 04:13:51 PM HST
MILILANI, Hawaii -

The New Year means saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new.  But, for many island residents, it's a time to observe traditions passed down through the generations.

For the Kurihara-Yamashita-Okahata-Doi ohana, pounding the heck out of glutinous globs is the only way to enter the New Year.

They're using Grandpa Doi's usu, the stone mortar, passed down four generations from Kauai, now in Mililani.

"It's a family tradition.  You have to keep it going for the others like my daughter and son-in-law.  So, you have to keep on doing it so they can experience the whole thing," said Ronald Doi.

First, the massage -- steamed mochi rice is readied for pounding.  Then, the heavy hitters come in, ready to flex their holiday muscles.

In just a few minutes, with just a few turns, the mochi is properly pummeled and ready for shaping.

"All the friends come around.  We'd have a party, we'd eat.  We pound mochi.  It's something that's really enjoyable and good for the family," said Randy Kurihara.

The ohana has grown over the years, reflecting the diversity of island families.  As the original uncles grow older, they pass the art of mochitsuki to a new generation.

"We're getting older now.  It takes a lot of energy to pound the mochi, so we are trying to recruit the younger group," said Kurihara.

Mochi is more than a munchy.  Its stickiness symbolizes family togetherness.  Its sweetness represents the joy of new beginnings.  The laughter of the young, taking up an age-old tradition and making it their own.


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