For most Japanese, the Christmas is just a commercial event, and the real spiritual celebration is Shogatsu, the New Year. Preparations for Shogatsu begin these days, and one of the most visible elements are the specific New Year decorations. Actually, they are not just decorations but amulets welcoming the New Year’s kami, displayed to bring prosperity, good luck, and to ward off the evil spirits.
Above the entrance door you will see a shimekazari, a braided rice straw rope whose simplest symbol means stopping the bad spirits. A more complex shimekazari, like the one photographed here, also includes auspicious objects such a crane (tsuru) made of Mizuhiki cord, which is a symbol of longevity. An even more interesting auspicious object is the daidai Japanese bitter orange, a symbol of family continuity because daidai, usually written 橙, can be written with a different kanji, 代々, which means “from generation to generation".
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: