Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Golden Week Part the Fifth: Rice

This is a coin operated rice mill. Almost all rice sold in stores in Japan is white, and people who do buy brown rice in bulk can still come to one of these little “vending machines” to grind away all the nutritional value of their staple food. Since Mr. Takahashi is an employee of the Hokkaido government’s ministry of agriculture, he is one of the lucky few who can buy cheap brown rice directly from the Agricultural Cooperative Society. Although Yuko’s parents have been eating brown rice ever since her father was operated on for cancer last year, they went ahead and polished some of their rice for Golden Week in the spirit of family feasting. The visit to the rice mill afforded Mr. Takahashi an opportunity to carry away all of the discarded nuka (Japanese for “rice bran”) in order to use it as fertilizer in his garden.

This year, the birth of奏稀 (Souki) provided Yuko’s parents with the justification they needed for purchasing an electric mochi-maker. Just fill the tank with water, pour in the well soaked raw grains of mochi rice, and press the “Start” button. It will do up to 1.8kg of mochi at a time. (That’s right, my little nephew, 1.8kg—just enough to test your manhood next year!)

Sister #4, about Ten Years Ago, Demonstrating the Old Way to Make Mochi