In Japan, the preparation of food is not just about eating—it’s an artform, a sport, and a way of life all wrapped up into one. While the Zen-like precision of the country’s sushi chefs has been well-documented over the years, CNN’s Great Big Story released a short video Monday highlighting the “dangerous art” of producing mochi, a green, gelatinous rice cake popular throughout the region during times of celebration.

Mochi is made by repeatedly pounding a glob of sticky rice called “mochigome” for approximately two minutes with a mallet, as well as one’s fists. The master of this style of high-speed mochi-making—called “mochi-tsuki”—is Mitsuo Nakatani, who has been running Nakatanidou in Nara, Japan for 23 years. Though people travel from shop to shop tasting different variations of the food, they crowd around Nakatani's shop to watch him pulverize the green dough with a flurry of slaps and punches. Nakatani estimates that he gets in about three hits per second.

“To me, making mochi is like a battle,” he says in the video. “Anyone can pound mochi as long as you have a will. I live my life for mochi pounding.”

Still, despite the somewhat violent nature of the cooking process, Nakatani’s motivation is gentle.

“I think everyone makes a certain face when you eat something delicious. It’s different for everyone,” he says. “This is the happiest moment for me though, getting to see all those faces.”

[via Great Big Story]