The man who kneads rice at incredible speeds of three hits per second lets us into his world and tells us why he lives for making mochi.

Mitsuo Nakatani has been pounding mochi sticky rice in his shop, Nakatanidou, for 23 years. Located in Nara, the master mochi maker attracts huge crowds whenever he and his colleagues make a new batch of green-coloured mochi, putting on an incredible display of synchronised hand-and-mallet pounding at such high speeds that the process whirls by the naked eye in a wondrous blur. We were amazed by his skills when we saw him at work in his store last year, and now he’s returned as the star of a brand new video that gives us an insight into the man himself and the amazing technique and passion behind his craft.


The video gives us an introduction to the importance of mochi in Japanese culture, which is eaten at times of celebration, especially during the New Year period.


The type of mochi Nakatani specialises in is yomogimochi, mochi mixed with mugwort, which gives it a distinctive green colour.


The process that transforms the glutinous rice into chewy “cakes” is called “mochi-tsuki”. The special technique requires two people to work together, with one turning, moistening and hand-pounding the large ball of sticky rice in a wooden bowl, while the other hits the mound full-force with a mallet.


Nakatani uses a “high-speed mochi-tsuki“, where he works at amazing speeds of three poundings every second.


Working at such high speeds, with every pounding putting his hands at risk of being crushed by the force of the mallet, trust and communication between workers is key to avoiding injury.


The co-ordinated shouts allow the workers to work in sync with each other at incredibly high speeds, and their fast work and amazing display of prowess is testament to their years of experience and practice.


The end product is a smooth, fresh mochi rice cake, covered in kinako toasted soybean flour, which draws customers from all around Japan and brings smiles to everyone who visits his store. Nakatani says this is the happiest moment for him, when he sees the happy faces of those who eat his handmade product.


To see the short video in full, check out the clip below.

Store Information
Address: Nara-ken, Nara-shi, Hashimoto-cho 29
Phone number: 0742-23-0141
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Source: Youtube/Great Big StoryGigazine
Top Image: Youtube/Great Big Story
Screenshots: Youtube/Great Big Story

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