For the past 20 years, Soh Daiko has rung in the New Year by hosting an annual mochitsuki event at their home, the New York Buddhist Church. Alongside alumni, family, and friends, we enjoy potluck meals, play music, and most importantly: pound mochi. Following Japanese tradition, preparation for our mochitsuki event is a multi-day affair: the mochigome (glutinous rice) is soaked overnight, so that it is ready to be steamed the following day. Once the rice has been sufficiently steamed, a batch is plopped into a stone bowl (usu) and a team of diligent mochi-makers pound the rice into mochi using a wooden mallet (kine). Once the mochi reaches the ideal consistency, it is divided into small edible portions, fillings and toppings are added, and finally, we eat!
Unique to Soh Daiko, however, is the song sang as we pound the mochi. Composed by Yoko Fujimoto, and gifted to Soh Daiko as a symbol of the friendships that she and her husband, Yoshikazu Fujimoto developed with many North American taiko groups, the “Soh Daiko American Mochitsuki Song” (僧太鼓メリケン餅つき唄) has been performed every year since it was taught to us in 2010.
Surrounded by family and friends, making food together, and performing music that embodies our connection with the broader taiko community, we cannot think of a better way to start a fresh new year. We wish everyone a Happy New Year, and the best that 2017 has to offer!