Mallets in hand and ready to pound rice into mochi: from left, Kaylee Tanaka, Taya Ganiko, Kenny Tanaka, Roux Rikimaru, Remy Rikimaru, Mia Ishihara, Amy Ishihara and Sadie Hosokawa at the OCO Club’s annual mochitsuki Dec. 31 at Tanaka Farms in Irvine.

On Dec. 31, the OCO Club hosted its annual mochitsuki at Tanaka Farms in Irvine.

Over 1,700 OCO Club families and friends braved the rain and cold to pound and form mochi, bring good luck to the new year by enjoying the ozoni prepared by Nobuko Christoph and her helpers, and listen to great performances by the OCO Kibou Taiko group.

Yonsei 26 took first place in the Junior Division.

In addition, the first 700 attendees were treated to loco moco prepared by the OCO BBQ Crew.

Adding to the festivities was the attendance of Kenko Sone, consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, and his wife, who expressed how excited they were to be part of an event celebrating Japanese culture in Southern California.

The Cal Poly Touzan Taiko team.

As in prior years, the main event was the mochitsuki pound-off challenge, in which teams from various Southern California Japanese American organizations shared a sample of their favorite Oshogatsu food and competed to make and decorate the best kagami mochi to bring in the new year. This year there were over 40 teams competing!

Each team’s kagami mochi was outstanding with participants going all-out with decorations that showcased the essence of their team and Japanese culture. The winners of the 2022 OCO mochitsuki pound-off challenge were:

The OCO pounding squad.

Junior Division

1st place: Yonsei 26

2nd place: OCO Youth Club – 11th grade

3rd place: OCBC Junior YBA

College Division

1st place: UCSD NSU

2nd place: Cal State Long Beach NSU

3rd place: UCLA Kyodo Taiko

OCO Kibou Taiko performed during the event.

Adult Division

1st place: OCBC

2nd place: OCO Kibou Taiko

3rd place: Chuo University Alumni Club

OCO Team Division

1st place: OCO Birds of Prey – 3rd grade boys

2nd place: OCO Mighty Dragons – 3rd grade girls

3rd place: OCO Panthers – 6th grade boys

Frank Yada (front) tends the mochi as Bryan Furumoto, Craig Tomiyoshi, Carol Sakamoto, Glen Morita, Stacey Suzuki, Ron Nakahira, Ann Nakahira, Kevin Gomez and Nicholas Gomez look on. (Photo by Lynn Morita)

Photos provided by Julia Wong, except where indicated

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