Thursday, January 7, 2010

AML: Mochitsuki at U of M Center for Japanese Studies Saturday -

The wooden clack-clack of the kamishibai storyteller’s blocks calls us to brave the snow and head to campus to hear the tale of the Mighty Momotaro, each scene’s colorful pictures displayed in a wooden stagelike frame. The story is punctuated by the thump thump thump of the wooden kine in the other room, pounding rice in a giant wooden usu. This year there is taiko drumming, too, bringing us back to summer concerts and street fairs in California and Hawaii; as well as sumi writing and manga drawing and origami. Of course the ikebana flower arrangements and the elegant ladies in Miyabi playing koto are not to be missed. Finally, the food—so many different kinds of mochi, sembei, Pocky.

Mochitsuki is the traditional rice cake making that happens at the end of every year to preserve just-harvested rice for the winter and to make mochi for New Year’s Day Oshougatsu. Mochitsuki is a big deal in rural Japanese communities. It has become less so in urban communities who make their mochi in a mochi maker or the microwave or just buy it from a mochi and manju shop. However, there is a growing resurgence in Japanese American communities across the United States, who want to teach younger generations (fourth and fifth now) about their culture and heritage. It is always a lot of fun. (click on link for more...including an embedded video of super fast mochi making)

Mochitsuki at U of M Center for Japanese Studies Saturday -


  1. Thanks for the link. My wife and I have been writing, publishing, and performing kamishibai since 2003, so it's exciting to hear how it's spreading around America.

    David Battino

  2. Thanks! Have you seen the children's picture book, Kamishibai Man by Allen Say?