Lucky for me, not only did I marry a nice sweet guy, I also married into a huge (at least I think it's large) extended family. It still overwhelms me at the amount of relatives at Mike's family gatherings. Just to give you an idea, I have four cousins all of which are more than 10 years older or younger than me, so we never really hung out and could relate to each other. Mike has eight cousins all around his age. Okay, so back to the point of this post, no I did not end up marrying into a "mochi-pounding" family, but Mike's mom's friend hosts a mochi pounding event every year and this was the second year that Mike and I joined in the festivities.
Mochi rice is soaked overnight and then drained.
Here's the steamer used to steam the mochi rice.
The mochi assemblers all line up on both sides of a table and piece of the warm mochi are passed down the table. People flatten the piece of mochi in their palms and then quickly insert a ball of filling into the mochi. The mochi is then sealed over the filling.
Look at that. They have the system down. This is a pan of prescooped azuki bean filling.
The mochi is then cooled and then someone marks the mochi with colored dots to represent the different fillings. Red-azuki bean filling; Blue-Sweet Potato; Purple(?)-azuki bean and strawberry; Yellow-yellow sweet potato and coconut (I think).