New Years in Kumamoto

Posted on January 3, 2012 by Brian Jaress
Tags: japan, photos

Wood-burning rice steamer

The new year is a big deal in Japan, and Katie’s host family invited us to a mochi-making party (餅搗き) at the end of December. First we steamed special rice in a wood-burning steamer, then we pounded it into paste and formed it into bun-shaped mochi ().

Mr. Awata pounding mochi

Fresh mochi

Once the mochi was made, we used the coals from the steamer to grill lunch.

Mr. Awata pouring coals into the grill

Mrs. Sugita turns food on the grill

On New Year’s Day, we went to Katie’s coworker’s house for a dinner party. One interesting food was mustard-filled lotus root (辛子蓮根) a local specialty.

New Year’s food at the Sugimotos’

New Year’s food at the Sugimotos’

After dinner, we went to a traditional spa (温泉). Hot outdoor baths (お風呂) are one of my favorite things about Japan. Going back and forth between hot water and a cold bench in fresh air is a great way to unwind.

Hot outdoor bath