At the award-winning Nakatani-dou rice cake shop in Nara, Japan, the making of traditional Daifuku mochi is an event in itself. Owner Mitsuo Nakatani pounds the rice with his fist at breakneck speeds while a large wooden mallet alternates in rhythm, a thrilling process to watch.

Traditionally, mochi was made from whole rice, in a labor-intensive process. The traditional mochi-pounding ceremony in Japan is Mochitsuki:

1. Polished glutinous rice is soaked overnight and steamed.
The steamed rice is mashed and pounded with wooden mallets (kine) in a traditional mortar (usu).

2. Two people will alternate the work, one pounding and the other turning and wetting the mochi. They must keep a steady rhythm or they may accidentally injure one another with the heavy kine.

3. The sticky mass can be eaten immediately or formed into various shapes (usually a sphere or cube)

In this video from Great Big Story, the mochi master explains his traditional approach to mochi-making.

Next: Watch an up close, longer clip of the dramatic process.

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