The custom of eating mochi rice cakes goes far back in Japan to the arrival of rice cultivation. Spirits are said to reside in mochi, which has been eaten as a sacred food. Indispensable to making mochi is a mortar, created by hollowing out wood. This stool is made by a single craftsman, from purchase of the materials to processing, using the same crafting method used for the mortars that have been rooted in Japanese lifestyle culture from ancient times.
A log of zelkova is set on a lathe and carved while rotating, a process dependent upon the intuition of skilled craftsmen. This lavish product is achieved through a combination of fine material and the skill to carve it.
Zelkova, the wood used, mainly grows in Asia and is a typi- cal tree species in Japan. It is used not only in furniture and building materials but also in shrines and temples, making zelkova the tree species most familiar to people in Japan.