200 Larkin St
San Francisco, California 94102

A dynamic and delicious Japanese New Year Celebration at the Asian Art Museum!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

12:00–1:00 pm: Mochi Pounding
1:00–4:00 pm: Art Activity

FREE after museum admission

Children 12 and under always admitted free!

Please click here for the press release.

All dates and times are subject to change; please call (415) 581-3500 for the latest information.

Have you eaten fresh mochi before? Have you ever made it from scratch?

Seize the perfect opportunity to do both at the

Asian Art Museum's Mochi Pounding Party, in celebration of Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year!

In Japan, mochi (a sticky rice dumpling or cake) is a tasty treat made in recognition of special occasions and is commonly eaten during the New Year.

As in previous years, the museum’s event will be led by Kagami Kai, a San Francisco-based group dedicated to maintaining the Japanese tradition of mochi pounding, or mochitsuki, where glutinous steamed rice is pounded into delectable soft, chewy cakes.

To inspire the communal spirit usually associated with mochitsuki, people of all ages are encouraged to try their hand at swinging the wooden mallets that pound the wet rice paste and afterwards, taste the sweet results of their hard work.

This lively ceremony is an interactive performance, complete with music, dance, and costumes. The festivities will continue with a hands-on art activity for the entire family. Visitors will also have the opportunity to stroll the museum’s permanent collection galleries, shop in the museum store, refresh at Cafe Asia, and view the special exhibition Pioneers of Philippine Art: Luna, Amorsolo, Zóbel on its closing weekend.

The Mochitsuki Process

Oshogatsu is the most important time of the year for most Japanese, a joyous time imbued with good feelings and nostalgia. Once essential to the New Year celebration, the time-consuming practice of mochitsuki is now rare even in Japan, as busy people eat store-bought mochi rather than make their own.

Traditionally, glutinous rice is washed and soaked overnight on the evening before the pounding. The next morning the rice is steamed. It is then carried to the usu (large mortar) and is pounded with a kine (wooden mallet) while someone else continues to turn it and keep it wet so it doesn’t stick to the mallet. Once the mass is soft and smooth, it is pulled into various sizes and shapes (often round). It can be enjoyed a variety of ways: fresh, with different sauces, sweet stuffing, or with seaweed. An offering to the kani (deity), called kagami-mochi, or okasane, is comprised of two mochi cakes usually placed on a sheet of pure white paper in the center of a wooden tray.

Kagami-mochi at New Year is an auspicious esture that signifies hope for a happy and bright year ahead.

Kagami Kai

San Francisco’s Kagami Kai was founded nearly twenty years ago when Tetsu Takatani first came to the United States. Longing for the taste of fresh mochi, he decided to make his own equipment in hopes of preserving the mochitsuki custom and sharing it with the Bay Area community. Kagami Kai performs demonstrations at local nursing homes, schools, and Japanese festivals throughout the year.

Official Website: http://www.asianart.org/mochitsuki.htm

Added by mtakacs on December 27, 2006



this is a good time! went last year and enjoyed the spectacle.


Cool event. I don't know if it's done with such ceremony in Japan, but they turned the mochi-pounding into a sort of dance, to taiko drumming so intense you could feel it in your gut. It's very kid-friendly too, they get to participate, plus a treat at the end.