Monday, January 14, 2013


The Asian Art Museum belatedly celebrated the New Year with a mochi-pounding demonstration by Kamagi Kai, who turned the preparation of this traditional Japanese treat into an hour long performance piece. The crowd was standing room only.

Calligrapher Shioh Kato interpreted the character for the Year of the Snake on a wall-sized surface, accompanied by ominous taiko drumming. He channeled a quivering energy that would put any abstract expressionist to shame. He grunted & yelled & even blew pigment onto the surface.

Nowadays mochi is of course made by machine, so it's impressive to see the physicality of the traditional process in which the rice is pounded in a large mortar by sticks & mallets. Alarmingly, one optimistic person has to stick his hand into the mortar to wet & turn the doughy mixture between blows. Set to the rhythm of the taiko, it was a lively dance.

There were many gleeful volunteers for the audience participation portions.

It was a great event for kids...

... & adults. Kamagi Kai's finale involved juggling mallets, flinging the mochi into the air & leading the audience in synchronized clapping. Samples of mochi were distributed at the end. The audience was warned to take small bites.

§ Mochitsuki!
Mochi-Pounding Ceremony
Saturday, January 12, 11am - 4pm
Samsung Hall, Asian Art Museum


Anonymous said...

Thanks for attending and blogging our event! Glad you had fun. - AAM

Axel Feldheim said...

I've been meaning to do this for years, so I'm glad I finally made it this time around!