Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Mochi Macho Man (part 3)
The contest had begun. The first woman to come out was all decked out in her best work out wear. She was wearing gloves, a track suit, and knee pads. Here she was all set to lift a two hundred pound block of punded rice gluten. The mochi must have weighed more than her. She was tiny. I was expecting to see a bunch of former shot put throwers, cow-girls and women soft-ball coaches. And here was the first contestant all set to throw her full effort into it and she was no larger than an average American seventh grade girl. She hunkered down and set her body to lift the palate of mochi off the platform. My heart began to pound and flutter in my chest. One wrong move and this tiny little woman would be crushed to death by the mass of mochi. She began to lift. Pulling with all her strength she never left her crouch. However, she did manage to lift the mochi off the stage. Not high mind you, but that seemed to be the mode of operation for this contest. It was not how high the cake was lifted, but how long it was held in the contestant’s arms. The people we watched never left their squat. The participant would crouch down, wrap their arms around the mochi cake, grip the wooden pallet, and lift the whole thing into their lap. Once positioned as such they would hold it in their arms, while balancing precariously on their heels. A delicate balance between falling forward thus dropping the mochi, and tipping backward and being crushed by it.
While the contestants were doing their best to lift the giant stacks of mochi onto their laps the judges were extorting them to push ever onward. One of the priest judges in particular was very engaging with both the contestants and the crowd. There were several times in which the crowd bust out in laughter.