Visit Hakozakigu Shrine on Dec. 31 to see one of Japan’s New Year traditions, the mochitsuki. Mochitsuki is when rice is pounded to make mochi (rice cakes). The mochi at this festival are in the shape of namako (sea cucumbers). The namako mochi are traditional and were first made after a fisherman from Hakozaki, due to lack of time, brought a sea cucumber instead of a rice cake to the birth celebrations of Emperor Ojin one New Year’s Eve. Ever since, fishermen from Hakozaki assemble at Hakozakigu every New Year to pound mochi flour together.