I pounded mochi this weekend at Takatsuki, a traditional activity in the New Year (though typically only children do it, I was given a chance because I was a foreigner)
This weekend, Nicky and I had the opportunity to participate in Mochitsuki, an event where you pound mochi (rice cakes) in traditional fashion, with a wooden mallet and a stone mortar. Taisuke and his family invited us. It was really fun. And the mochi was delicious! Directly after we made it, we were able to sample the hot, sticky mochi in an adzuki soup, or rolled in soba dust. It was fantastic.
Directly after eating, the community house members ushered us to a different room where we were asked to sit, as there was going to be an Indonesian dance performed by a group of performers. The costumes were really beautiful. The dances were quite simple, and as I was wondering as to why, my question was answered- as after their first set, Nicky and I, along with Taisuke’s children, were pulled up onto stage to join them.... so... Nicky and I danced a simple Indonesian dance on Mochitsuki. It was.... entertaining? Haha. I’ve never been much of a dancer.
Following Mochitsuki, we went to Taisuke’s home for lunch, where his wife Sachiko had cooked a massive spread of nabe. We ate our fill and then some, but it was hard not to, when it was so delicious. There was beef and mushrooms and mochi and daikon. At that point, I was feeling pretty full, so I played Wii for a while with his three daughters Haruko (Daughter of Spring), Natsuko (Daughter of Summer) and Yukiko (Daughter of Snow).
Our last stop of the day was at a large onsen in Takatsuki, where Taisuke left Nicky and I to relax for a while in the hot springs. It was a fairly nice facility with three stories and a large variety of baths. There were mineral baths, ion baths, wooden tub baths, jet baths and assorted heat baths. There was also a sauna. The weird thing about the sauna, though, was that there was a TV set behind a glass screen so that you had something to distract you while you were sitting there.
My favorite area of the onsen was the top floor, where the baths were level with the actual tile of the rooftop. In the distance, you could see the mountains of Kansai. It was really pleasant as well, because the water was so hot, but there was a cold breeze blowing by. When we were done, we called Taisuke, and, while we waited for him to come pick us up, we watched a sumo match on TV and shared a bottle of coke. It was a wonderful day.