Monday, September 18, 2006
So yesterday, I went to a Mochi Festival at a shrine with my friend Becky and some of her Japanese friends. We hiked up a bunch of steep steps and found a little shrine and a local community of neighbors. Becky and her friends (Takashi and Eri and daughter Huka) made Mochi the day before as did many of their neighbors.
There were some ceremonies being performed inside the shrine but it seemed somewhat secretive (and only older men were allowed in there) so I'm not exactly sure what was going on. However, the fun was really on the outside. There were many children lining up for the sumo wrestling challenge. A 10' diameter circle was drawn in the dirt and the children had to wrestle eachother to either push the other outside of the ring or push them to the ground.
At the end, the men in the shrine came out with a bunch of baskets of everyone's mochi balls wrapped up in cellophane bags (2 to a bag). They climbed up above the shrine and threw these bags of mochi down from above, which actually seemed pretty dangerous. Besides in the New York City subways, I've never seen little Asian old ladies move so fast. They were running around, swiping these bags of mochi off the ground, out of childrens' hands, etc. I think the goal was that the more bags of mochi that you caught, the better your luck would be or something like that.
Poor Huka was upset that she didn't end up with a mochi bag. (Actually, a Mochi-stealer swiped one out of her hands!!!) Brutal.