professors who seem unable to capture the rhythm of pounding in a large wooden mortar.
Mochi is a pounded rice cake, and Mochitsuki is the traditional rice cake making that happens at the end of every year to preserve just-harvested rice for the winter. New Year's Day (Oshogatsu, celebrated January 1) is a really big deal in Japan and in Japanese American communities, full of food and family and friends. When we used to spend our Christmas holidays in California, our New Year's Days were spent visiting one Japanese American friend's home after the other, eating our way across town. Now, deep in the January snow, in the quiet of this college town's New Year's season, we are revitalized by the warmth and hubbub of this annual celebration. (This year's Mochitsuki celebration is on Saturday, January 10," in the International Institute Gallery in the U-M's School of Social Work Building.)
My two middle schoolers find their friends from Japanese class and hang out on the fringes, eating Pocky sticks and talking about manga. Occasionally they will deign to help their younger siblings with a particularly difficult origami, but they are too cool to reveal any excitement.