Scene from a previous year’s Mochi Tsuki—The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Celebration. • Courtesy Photo
Scene from a previous year’s Mochi Tsuki—The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Celebration. • Courtesy Photo

For over a millennium, making and eating the sweet rice treat mochi (moe-chee) has been a celebrated New Year’s tradition in Japan, with generations of families and communities coming together to wish good health and prosperity for the new year.

As one of the nation’s longest-running public mochi tsuki (moe-chee-zu-key) events, the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC) welcomes everyone to the 27th annual community celebration on Sunday, January 3, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at IslandWood, located at 4450 Blakely Avenue NE where staff and volunteers will offer tours of the award-winning School in the Woods.

The event is free and donations for mochi are welcome. Parking is limited at the site and nearby Blakley Elementary School; carpooling is strongly encouraged.

Highlights include performances from the acclaimed Seattle taiko drum group Kokon Taiko, and to comply with fire safety laws, each of the three taiko drum performances will be limited to 175 seats. Free tickets for each performance will be available 20 minutes prior to each performance on a first come, first served basis. The award-winning historical exhibit “Kodomo No Tameni—For the sake of the children” and a video and images of Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial “Nidoto Nai Yoni—Let It Not Happen Again” National Historic Site will be on display.

Mochi-making 101: BIJAC members will prepare some batches of mochi in the centuries-old method of first steaming the sweet rice over an open fire, then placing the cooked rice into a warm stone or concrete bowl called an usu.

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