I'm sure that these rice cakes are made on modern manufacturing equipment, but here is how it used to be done: A big quantity of Japanese Rice is cooked and put it into a giant mortar surrounded by a circle of men equipped with enormous wooden mallets. To the beat of traditional drums, the rice is pounded, in sequence, into a smooth paste. The paste is spread out on matts to dry. Before it becomes too hard, it is cut (kiri
) into pieces, in this case rectangular: kirimochi
Mochi may be cooked in a very hot oven or grilled, in which case they brown and puff up, or cooked in a pan, or even in a soup, in which case they don't. Either way, they become soft and gooey inside. Delicious either with savoury (soy, sesame, seaweed...) or sweet (sugar, chestnuts cooked in syrup...) garnishes.