Dear friends, was there a time you feel you just have to get that picture? I have such photographic impulse many times and the latest was at Nara city, in my quest to record Japan’s fastest mochi pounders Nakatanidou.
Nakatanidou won the national high-speed mochitsuki (the pounding of rice to make mochi) championship in 2005 and 2006 and since then they have become a household name synonymous with exciting mochitsuki performances. The mochitsuki does not have fixed schedule as the shop owner only starts pounding when their freshly-made mochi are running out, which can be every 30-45 minute intervals and last about 1.5-2 minutes each time.
After arriving from our visit to the nearby Nara Park, I saw they had just completed a pounding session. Thus we went looking for lunch a short distance away, which incidentally has a long queue (like 30+min). My wife suggested that I should watch out for the next session while she manned the queue. But alas, l discovered I have missed yet another session. So after lunch, I rushed to the shop front and waited for the next session which came 45min later.
When the pounding session commenced, I had the no.1 spot just steps from the famous mochi master- Mitsuo Nakatani. It was a most exciting photo shoot indeed, as the swinging mallets and mochi splatter were just whiskers away from me.
I set the camera shutter speed at 1/50s to convey the sense of speed (up to 3 poundings in 1 second). I decided against using flashlight as it could distract the mochi masters. On the hand, a fast shutter speed to freeze the action would have totally ruined the feel of the occasion. The pictures are shot with Canon EOS 5DMkIV, lenses EF16-35mm F4L IS – 1/50, F4, ISO 400
Do have a look at their video at Great Big Story – https://youtu.be/tmSrULDVRPc
Should you visit Nara, you must not missed their Yomogi Mochi, a green rice cakes made with Japanese mugwort and filled with Anko – a sweet red bean paste made from azuki beans. It is dusted with kinako (roasted and sweetened soybean flour) and sold at 150¥ each.
Located to the west of Nara Park, Japan’s fastest mochi pounders Nakatanidou is a 5-minute walk south of Kintetsu Nara Station and opens daily from 10am to 7pm.
Many sincere thanks for coming along my pixels journey. Should any readers be keen to go on a visit to Japan, please feel free to drop me a message or check out my other Japan adventures HERE!
Footnote: Pictures are all rights reserved and copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography. Opinion expressed are factual, objective and that of the author. .