MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Residents from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni participated in Mochitsuki – rice pounding – with Japanese civilians and volunteers at Tenno Elementary School in Tenno, Japan, April 16, 2016.
Commonly eaten during the Japanese New Year and festivals, mochi is made when glutinous rice is soaked, steamed and pounded with a wooden mallet and mortar, forming a sticky, stretchy texture.
The rice is then rolled in flour and molded into round shapes to form mochi or rice cakes, which participants enjoyed in Japanese miso-based vegetable soup.
“I was told that we used 33 kilograms of rice, which made approximately 400 to 500 mochi,” said Morgan Voigt, family readiness officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “This was a great opportunity to connect with civilians in our local Iwakuni community and experience the mochi making process.”
Residents also joined Japanese volunteers from Chiiki Koryu no Sato, a local non-profit organization, for activities such as Jenga and Acchi-Muite-Hoi, which is a game using rock-paper-scissors. They also crafted paper samurai hats and shuriken – a Japanese throwing star.
Kikuko Shinjo, a representative for Chiiki Koryu no Sato, said this is a good way to build camaraderie and friendship between station residents and Japanese civilians.
“I would like to show our hospitality and welcome families from overseas to promote harmony among people through sharing Japanese cultural experiences,” said Shinjo. “Seeing real Japanese customs from a different angle helps people discover new things and facilitates them to adapt in the different culture.”
Mikie Watanabe, a cultural adaptation specialist with the Cultural Adaptation Program, said participating in this event with Japanese citizens is a good opportunity to interact smoothly and close the cultural gap.
“This event allowed everyone to interact, help each other, experience Japanese culture and build a stronger relationship between the U.S. and Japan,” said Watanabe.
Voigt said their three goals for the day were to eat a lot of mochi, make new friends and have fun, and she believes they achieved that.
For information on upcoming events, contact the Cultural Adaption Program at 253-6165.