News: Okinawa-based soldiers join JGSDF friends to pound rice
Story by Charles Steitz, 10th RSG Public Affairs
CAMP YAESE, Okinawa, Japan - Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members from the 15th Brigade and U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Okinawa along with family members joined together here Dec. 20 for the traditional Japanese mochi rice pounding ceremony.
This traditional festival, dating back hundreds of years, celebrates the beginning of a new year and wishes everyone a prosperous, healthy and successful life.
The event was hosted by Col. Hideyoshi Fujita, commander, 6th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group, and Command Sgt. Maj. Norimitsu Ando at Camp Yaese. Everyone pitched in to make the rice cakes and joined together to enjoy mochi soup.
Jordan Micko, a Kadena High School student, said, “I really enjoyed being here and learning about this important Japanese tradition. This also brings our communities together, and I plan to take part in many more cultural traditions and opportunities to interact with my Japanese friends here on island.”
During the ceremony, the rice is pounded into paste and molded into round balls. While eaten year-round, mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year. Similar food items are prominent throughout the Asian-Pacific rim.
According to history, samurai warriors took mochi into battle because it was easy to prepare and transport. The sound of the samurai pounding the rice was an indicator they were ready to go into battle.