Allison Grossman photographs the spiritual and cultural mochitsuki ceremony, where mochi, a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice, is pounded into paste and molded into shape.

As Carolyn Carreno explains:

According to Shinto belief, making mochi invites the kami, or gods and spirits, to visit. The mochi themselves are thought to contain the presence of the kami; they also represent perfection and purity and are believed to imbue the eater with these qualities.

Allison Grossman visits the Chino family, on their 50-acre plot just north of San Diegoto, to experience firsthand the mochi ceremony.

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1. The fan used to cool off the mochi.

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2. Smoothing out the new crop rice before it is steamed and made into mochi, this labor of love, spirit, and and soul starts soon after sunrise.

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3. Pouring the steamed rice to be pounded, the ceremony has begun. It truly takes a village.

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4. Perfecting the pounding of the glutinous rice.

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5. Once the rice is sufficiently pounded, it's taken to the table before being torn into smaller rice balls.

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6. Mochi sitting pretty. Shintos believe that mochi invites and contains the kami--Japanese for gods.

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7.Although mochi is the main star of the show, sushi and sashimi are eaten plentifully during the ceremony.

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8. These tsukemono--Japanese pickles--are made from Chinos' fresh vegetables.

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9. Up and close.

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10. Onigiri--sticky rice enveloped in seaweed.

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11. The final phase of the ceremony begins by adding yomogi (mugwort) to the rice. The hunched back exemplifies the hard work put into executing this ceremony well.

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12. Filled and filed mochi.

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13. After a hard day's work, a much-needed drink is sought and carefully inspected.

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14. The glorious farm prepares for rest once guests have left. Next year is just around the corner.