Shimekazari 注連飾り - New Year Decorations for Luck

Shimekazari 注連飾りis one of the many fascinating and unique New Year traditions that are still being followed even in modern times in Japan. Immediately after Christmas all associated decorations, most of which are international such as Christmas tree, are removed and replaced by various traditional symbolic objects with deep auspicious meanings. Shimekazari consists of shimenawa (a sacred rice straw rope), pine, and a bitter orange as a symbol of posterity, combined with various other good luck charms and adornments.

Shimekazari are hung above doors to invite gods of good fortune and to ward off evil spirits...

Another important traditional decoration for New Year is kadomatsu 門松?  that is placed in pairs in front of the house to welcome ancestral spirits or kami of the harvest. Kadomatsu are usually made of three bamboo shoots of different lengths as symbols of prosperity, pine (symbolizing longevity), and sometimes of ume (plum branches, symbolizing steadfastness). They’re said to be the temporary dwelling places of gods who visit to bless humans, and are usually burned after January 15th to appease the kami or toshigami (deity) and release them.

Kadomatsu - traditional Japanese New Year decoration

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