Community and family volunteers came together for the Fugetsu-Do 2022 Mochi Madness.
The annual work rush covered four days, Dec. 28 to 31, starting at 8 p.m. going until 7 a.m. the next day. Sixty helpers staffed the six 4-hour shifts to pack fresh komochi to distribute to Japanese markets. Other traditional items included an mochi, kuri kinton, yokan, noshi mochi, okasane and other speciality items for New Year’s fare.
Volunteers come from organizations including Grateful Crane Ensemble, Little Tokyo Service Center, Little Tokyo Community Council, Little Tokyo Historical Society, Nisei Week, The Rafu Shimpo and Rising Stars Youth Leadership Program. Former staff members of Fugetsu-Do, the Koban, Upper Crust and alumni of the Japan Exchange and Teaching program, originally recruited by Nancy Kikuchi over 20 years ago, returned to volunteer.
The tradition of the community coming together originated from the early years of Fugetsu-Do and has continued over the 120 years since its founding in 1903. According to third-generation owner Brian Kito, the relationship with local customers has been the key to the store’s longevity.
“The community has been supporting us now more than ever, with the economy and COVID and everything,” Kito said. “They know it’s more than just a piece of mochi, and we really, really appreciate it.”
Photos by MICHAEL OKAMURA (except where noted)