Kagami mochi

My informant was a 64 year old Japanese chef that used to work for my family. I talked to her about her heritage and different important aspects of Japanese culture that I would not know.

Collector: “Are there any Japanese traditions that you take part in?”

Informant: “Yes there are many, which would you like to hear about?”

Collector: “Which one means the most to you?”

Informant: “Hmmm.. well, there is one that my family has always done on New Years. Every year my father would always bake mochi, which are chewy rice balls. When he was pounding the race with a wooden mallet, our entire family would gather around to watch. Many families did this. Because the mochi balls would turn out so sweet, we would always eat them on New Years to lead in to a sweet new year. It is called kagami mochi.”

This was very interesting to know because I love Japanese culture and spend a great deal of time there with my dad. I found it intriguing to learn more about the Japanese new year and I would love to take part in this tradition in the upcoming year.

I decided to do some research on kagami mochi and actually found out a lot of useful information. It was found that the kagami mochi first appeared during the Muromachi period which was between the 14th and 16th centuries. Rather than provide for a sweet year, mochi was thought to give one strength. However, it could mean different things for different families.