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.


1. The fan used to cool off the mochi.


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.


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


4. Perfecting the pounding of the glutinous rice.


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


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


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


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


9. Up and close.


10. Onigiri--sticky rice enveloped in seaweed.


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.


12. Filled and filed mochi.


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


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