This morning, Christine and I woke up early and went to her church where we participated in a annual tradition of mochi making. Mochi is a sweet rice that is cooked and then pounded until it is smooth and sticky. It is then formed into little cakes (about the size of a chocolate chip cookie) and filled with anything from a sweet bean mush to peanut butter. The mochi takes a long time to make and is physically intensive - we were there from 8:30 AM until about 2:30 PM and made close to 20 batches of mochi along with about 30 members of Christine's congregation.
I took a bunch of pictures that walk through the whole process, but basically you cook the rice and then pound it with wooden mallets until it is very sticky and smooth. It is VERY hard work, but definitely a fun activity and the final result is actually pretty good. Mochi is only made once a year (right around New Year's), but people freeze it and eat it throughout the year.
Although very worn out, I enjoyed being a part of the tradition and I think I did a decent job swinging the mallet. I didn't break anything or hit anyone's fingers, so I guess its possible I'll be invited back next year!
We are now back at Christine's house relaxing (but not before hitting up Mark's Place again for some more ono grub!) and later we are headed to dinner at a local Japanese restaurant to celebrate Christine's birthday.