This short video is an attempt to express the spirit of my neighborhood as we made and ate mochi (sticky rice cakes) on December 22, 2013. I did not shoot or record with a plan, so it’s pretty rough. Also, wanted to use it for teaching, so I used photos in three ways: original 4:3 aspect ratio from the camera (pillarboxed with vertical black mrgains), cropped to 16:9 aspect ratio (same as the video), and cropped with Ken Burns effects (pan, tilt, zoom).
I kept the camera aimed low to avoid shots that might embarrass people or violate their privacy. That worked out well. Other bystanders and I stood side-by-side, looking at the same activities. I quickly discovered that the most visually compelling scenes were of hands: old, middle-aged, and young hands, often close together or touching. I was most impressed by the transmission of manual skills from old to young. Fathers, grandfathers, and other men held the smallest mallet (kine) with small children as they pounded rice together. At tables outdoors grandmothers and mothers guided girls’ hands as they formed the sticky clumps of rice into bite-size pieces of the same size and shape. In the kitchen grandmothers and mothers guided young girls as they prepared and served topping (kinoko) and green tea. In many cases such practice was followed by children doing it themselves. That’s how people keep their traditions alive, and it’s a great way to support young parents who want to raise their children in a healthy and supportive community.