Days leading up to New Year’s Eve, a familiar Japanese tradition took place in many local backyards: the art of mochitsuki, the pounding of mochi rice to make mochi. Family’s and friends gathered in their social bubbles to take their turns pounding away at their owned or borrowed usu (a large round bowl-like mortar made of wood or stone), in hopes of gaining good fortune over the coming year. Here is a collection of photos submitted to the Herald of various mochitsuki events that occurred this past late December.

Located deep within Kalihi Valley, Daihonzan Chozen-ji temple — a Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple and martial arts dojo — held their annual mochitsuki event for their temple members, pounding a whopping 100 pounds worth of mochi rice. Here are the photos that captured the day. 

Brian Dote (from left), Richard Sayama, and Andrew Ching doing the first mashing of the mochi rice. (Photo by Roman Amaguin)
Geraldine Abergas (left) and Krisha Zane pound and turn mochi at Daihonzan Chozen-ji. (Photo Roman Amaguin)
Burt Lum (left) pounds mochi at Daihonzan Chozen-ji. (Photo by Roman Amaguin)
A bowl of ozoni with freshly pounded mochi. (Photo by Brian Dote)
Yumiko Sayama (far right) helps shape mochi at Daihonzan Chozen-ji. (Photo Roman Amaguin)


Këhau Engle and family enjoyed a mochitsuki party in their own backyard in Honolulu using their family’s usu, which has been used in their family tradition for over 100 years. This year a new stand was made along with smaller mallets for the keiki to participate in the festivities. (Photo courtesy of Këhau Engle’s Instagram page)



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