At Little Tokyo’s Fugetsu-Do, which has provided confections to the Japanese American community for more than a century, the busiest time of year is the last week of December. From Dec. 27 to 31, more than 50 volunteers worked for 12 to 18 hours a day to produce and package tons of mochi, a Japanese New Year’s staple. Brian Kito, third-generation owner of Fugetsu-Do, and his son Korey are pictured with giant okasane or kagami mochi, a traditional Oshogatsu decoration. The smaller pieces are eaten in a variety of ways, including ozoni, a soup consumed on New Year’s Day for good luck.
Fugetsu-Do’s “Mochi Madness” is a tradition started more than a decade ago by the late Nancy Kikuchi and has involved members of organizations that she worked or volunteered for, including Little Tokyo Service Center, Upper Crust Enterprises, JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program), Tanabata L.A., Little Tokyo Koban, and Nikkei Women Legacy Association. “It’s a time for catching up with friends and making new ones and sharing stories of our dear friend Nancy with her Mochi Madness volunteers,” said Kito.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo