Azabu Gardens Journal

Mochi Bento Event at Azabu Gardens

Residents ring in the Year of the Rabbit with traditional Japanese food

Azabu Gardens kicked off 2023, the Year of the Rabbit, with a special mochi (Japanese rice cake) gifting event designed specifically for residents at the property.

At the event, which took place at the East and West entrance on Saturday, January 14, families received mochi bento boxes with green tea, as well as a welcoming smile.

While residents dined separately, owing to ongoing social distancing measures in place, receiving the bento packages helped to brighten their day, and bolster community spirit.

“It’s a very sweet thing to do,” said one resident who, accompanied by her husband and two children, received mochi bento and drinks from the event counter at the East entrance.

This year, four kinds of mochi flavors were on offer per bento: red bean, soy powder, sesame seed, and seaweed and soy.

And this was washed down with a serving of Oi Ocha, an unsweetened green tea.

Erin, a mother of two from California, attended the event with her two kids. Asked how soon she will eat her serving, her young daughter said, excitedly, “Really fast!” Erin’s young son was equally thrilled about the prospect of their first mochi of the new year: “Yes, very excited,” he answered when asked about the mochi.

His sister nodded in speedy agreement, adding: “It’s celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, and I feel that it’s very traditional. I’m excited to try it.”

In previous years, Erin remembers, the mochi gifting ceremony was accompanied by actual mochi making at the residence, with residents taking turns to pound the rice. “In our first year here, which was before the coronavirus, we got to do that. My son and my husband did the pounding, and it was really cool,” she said. “I think getting a little exposure to Japanese culture is really nice, so it’s lovely that the building can make us aware of the special traditions in Japan.”

Several families joined the two-hour event, some coming down especially for it, while others grabbed their bento on the way out for the day—or upon returning.

Erin’s daughter was particularly impressed with the effort by staff to go that extra mile to ensure residents have a memorable—and even flavorful—time at the residence.

“I feel like they’re very nice. They’re always here for us when we need help with speaking Japanese—or, if there is an invitation or something, they’ll read it for us. They’ll always be there for us.’

Her mother, Erin, agreed, adding: “We really enjoy living here, and the special events add a lot of joy.”