Inside The Fast-Paced, Dangerous World Of Mochi-Making In Japan

Mochi is a Japanese rice cake that's become increasingly popular here in the U.S. Variations on the traditional celebratory snack item — made with a short-grain japonica glutinous rice that provides for an ultra-soft, smooth and chewy texture — are most often seen in the forms of cakes filled with sweet paste or ice cream. Want to know just how mainstream mochi has become? Pop into a local DIY frozen-yogurt shop. Chances are that mochi is being offered as a topping.

Lost in mochi's Stateside popularization has been the painstaking, labor-intensive preparation involved in its proper creation. Our friends at Great Big Story recently took a trip to Japan to interview Mitsuo Nakatani, whose mochi shop, Nakatanidou, has been in business for 23 years. The high-speed style, called mochi-tsuki, involves pounding glutinous rice in coordinated synchronicity for nearly two minutes — at three beats per second! Take a look at the video below to get an idea of just how intense (and dangerous) this old-school art form really is.