Yokota leaders showcase partnership with Japanese tradition

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Taylor Workman
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Plenty of laughs were shared as base leaders and their Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (Koku-Jeitai) counterparts gathered at the Operation Support Wing annual mochi pounding ceremony.

Mochi is a traditional Japanese rice cake that is made just in time for the New Year and is widely considered a symbol for health and prosperity within the culture. The process of making mochi is also a culturally significant symbol of teamwork and partnership, as it requires collaborative time and effort.

The attendees separated into teams of four to pound heavy globs of steamed rice with wooden mallets in large mortars made of stone. Loud thuds and cheers echoed in the auditorium as teams of U.S. and Japanese leaders took turns hammering away at the rice dough.

The rice was pounded until it became a firm, gelatin-like substance that was ripped apart and shaped into snack-sized treats by hand.

“Mochi pounding, in a sense, is a sacred ritual,” said Col. Takashi Izuhara, Koku-Jeitai OSW commander. “It needs mutual cooperation between people. As we welcome the coming New Year, this important occasion is an opportunity for all of us to cooperate and share joy.”