At Ishida Kindergarten today we have been making lots of rice cake. All the students could watch the pounding of the rice at the front of the school, and the oldest students could actually join in with the process.
The rice-cake making festival is called mochitsuki in Japanese, and is an important winter event. It is usually held near to the end of the year. Mochi is often eaten to celebrate the coming of the new year.
During two different sessions, students formed around the usu (large stone bowl), and witnessed the process of putting the hot, steamed, mochigome into it, and then pounding it with a kine (a large wooden mallet).
Year 3 students each had the opportunity to pound the rice together with the headmaster (Encho-sensei). They were all wearing their mameshibori headbands that they had decorated with dotted patterns. The wooden mallet is heavy, but the students all tried hard to hit the rice frequently and with lots of power.