SHARIKI, Japan - Detachment Soldiers located in Shariki, Japan, attended a local mochi pounding ceremony with members of the Japan Air Self Defense Force stationed at the Shariki Sub-Base and the Tsugaru Police Dec 28.
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into a moldable paste. The traditional dish is eaten alone or molded and filled with anything from red-bean paste to ice cream.
Traditionally mochi is made during a ceremony where two men work together. One man strikes the rice in a curved bowl with a large wooden mallet while the other man wets and folds the mochi in between strikes of the hammer. Two men teams work together in a very quick rhythm. The man wetting the mochi often awes the onlookers by avoiding being hit.
After the ceremony, the Soldiers presented their handmade mochi to the residents of a Japanese nursing home in the nearby city of Tsugaru.
"Any event with our JASDF friends ends up being a great time, even if it's back-breaking work," remarked Sgt. Michael Skeens, the detachment supply sergeant. "The best part of the day was seeing the elderly people's faces light up when they received the mochi we made that day."
Nearby the Shariki Communication site is a Shariki Sub Base. The commander, Lt. Col Hosaka, has welcomed the Detachment Soldiers and included them in every military and cultural event they hold.
"The JASDF have really helped us build a positive relationship here in the community by inviting us to participate in these events," said Maj. Thomas Stockton, commander, Detachment 10, 100th Missile Defense Brigade. "This is a fantastic cultural experience that many Americans stationed in this country don't get to experience."