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Nov 26, 2005 08:00 PM

Japanese Mochi Bowls

  • l

I want to carve two traditional Japanese Mochi Bowls. One for my family and one for a good friend. I know that many families now use a “Mochi Maker.” Using the traditional New Years Day method of hand-pounding with Mochi mallets is much better because it is a family experience much the same as hand-cranking ice cream on the Fourth of July or hand-making tamales on Christmas Eve. The whole family having fun working together toward a special treat. To me that is what a "get-to-gether" is about. To make Mochi two family members swing the mallets as one member turns the rice between the swings. A deep family trust is developed as well as many laughs. I need to know what tree log a traditional Mochi bowl is carved from and where do I find the logs? I have measured several antique Mochi bowls and I think 18" round by 18" high would be perfect. I will carve the 6" deep bowl in the top and some additional carvings on the side for family history and decoration. I know they need to be a hardwood log to withstand the pounding. I guess oak would work but I want them to be as authentic as possible. I am in So. California but I am willing to do some driving for the right logs. My thanks for any help

Mochi Making.

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    Professor Salt

    Hey L-G-E,

    I don't have an answer for your wood type, but you might ask the folks at Fugetsu Do in downtown LA. They'd prolly know.

    As a wee sprat of perhaps 5 years old, I made mochi the old fashioned way at my grandma's house in Shikoku. I still have the pictures of the occasion. My uncle had made a kine (mallet) light enough for me to handle.

    Check out this link I found:

    1. I read someplace that the difficulty with wooden bowls here is that the California climate it not humid enough and the bowls eventually split under the heavy pounding as the wood drys out. Probably why you see so many stone ones is that they don't split open.

      We have mochi on New Years day, usually in O-zoni soup or toasted.

      1. Thanks for your responses. The Good Professor confirmed that a gathering to pound rice into Mochi using a traditional Mochi bowl and mallets (kine) provides good memories of a family or community get-together. WLA informed me as to why all the Mochoi bowls I have seen are splitting. I thought maybe they were the wrong wood. Now I will focus on another idea for making the bowl. I will start with making a 18" square (or octagon) laminated butcher block and then layer (i.e., criss-cross) several more on top until I have a block 18" high. I will need to put some thought into the layering so that the bowl in the top is strong yet also has a pattern on the side that is pleasing to the eye. Maybe I can find some Japanese Red Maple, Cherry and other woods from Japan to make it with.

        How To Make.....

        1. my grandfather made mochi bowl with cement. still have the molds to make mochi bowl

          1 Reply
          1. re: duane7

            I wish I could persuade you to make some mochi bowls from that mold. It seems they are getting pretty rare. I know that I haven't been able to source one in North America.