OCO Crowns Mochitsuki Champs

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East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center took first-place honors in the adult division at the Orange Coast Optimist Club Mochitsuki Taikai on Dec. 30. Front row, from left: Irene Takamatsu and Grace Richardson. Middle row, from left: Ron Young, Denise Akune, Pearl Omiya, Nancy Leong. Back row, from left: Robert Leong, Alan Young, Ricky Leong, Gary Takamatsu. Not pictured: Tina Asano.

Junior Division 1st Place: OCBC Jr. YBA, three-peat winners. Front row, from left: Kellie Yada, Katie Gomez, Emi Sakai, and Jessica Sakamoto. Back row, from left: Logan Ueno, Kennedy Hamabe, Michael Nishimoto, Nicholas Gomez, Montgomery Hamabe and Tyson Sakamoto

“Ichi, Ni, San! Ichi, Ni, San!” were cadences heard as teams used kine to pound the mochigome in one of the six usu at the annual Orange Coast Optimist Club Mochitsuki Taikai held at Tanaka Farms from early morning to 12 noon on Dec. 30. Some 1,500 OCO members, families, and friends participated in the Japanese-style potluck event to bring good luck for the new year and share knowledge of this once a year mochitsuki Japanese tradition.

The first 450 attendees were treated to loco moco prepared by Jesse James and the OCO crew. Highlighting the morning were 29 enthusiastic Japanese American organizations from Los Angeles and Orange Counties competing in the “Pound-Off Challenge” to make the best kagami mochi to bring in the new year. After the competition, friends and families were invited to pound mochi. Adding to the morning festivities were performances by OCO Taiko, JCI Taiko, and Yuujou Daiko.

OCO Basketball Division 1st Place: OCO 2nd Grade Orange Crush. From left: Laena Louie, Mason Ip, Emi Hitomi, Leah Tanioka, Leah Goodwin.

Winning first place in the Kagami Mochi Adult Division was East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center, second was won by Orange County Japanese American Association, and taking third was Japanese Speaking Parents Association of Children with Challenges (JSPACC). The Junior Division was won by OCBC JR. YBA, with OCBC Sangha Teens taking second, and third was captured by OCO 10th Grade Octagons. The OCO 2nd Grade Orange Crush Team won the OCO Basketball Division.

Photos by NEDDIE BOKOSKY

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