Saturday, January 09, 2010

Mochitsuki at the Asian Art Museum

At noon today, the Asian Art Museum was hosting "Mochitsuki," its annual New Year Mochi Pounding Ceremony.

It's an archaic Japanese tradition, supposedly rare even its home country, where polished rice is soaked overnight, steam cooked and then pounded with a large mortar and wooden mallet into soft, smooth cakes eaten with different sauces and sweet stuffings.

According to the Asian Art Museum website, "the local taiko drumming group, Kagami Kai, was started nearly twenty years ago by Tetsu Takatani upon his arrival to the United States. Longing for the taste of fresh mochi, he decided to make his own equipment in hopes of preserving the mochitsuki custom and sharing it with the Bay Area community."

I didn't stay long because Samsung Hall was much too crowded...

...but the event looked wonderful and the music was stirring.

The Burma and Siam exhibit downstairs is closing tomorrow (Sunday). It consists mostly of newly acquired items from the Doris Duke collection which are going to become part of the permanent collection. Much of it, however, will probably go into storage after the exhibit closes because the paintings and textiles are light sensitive. Plus, the museum is going to have to to reconfigure itself within its limited space now that they have these new treasures in hand, and who knows how long that's going to take? So you might want to get down to the Asian tomorrow to check it out.

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