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Pounding glutinous rice to make mochi rice cakes, used in the traditional New Year dishes. This image is part of The New Year in Japan, a book published by Kobe-based photographer Kozaburo Tamamura in 1906. Original text:
Our foreign friends indulge in plum pudding; our pudding, mochi (a dough of rice), is the national diet for the celebration of the New Year Era, and also for sacred celebrations during the year. Men, with boilers and dough tubs, pound the rice into dough, and nearly every family engage these dough pounders, to save time and trouble. The pounding begins about the 25th December, and continues until the end of the year.1
See all New Year images on Old Photos of Japan.
1 Tamamura, Kozaburo (1906). The New Year in Japan. Tamamura Shashinkan.