Immediately after December 25, the Christmas decorations are replaced with the New Year decorations… The New Year is the most important celebration in Japan and, even if they look like simple ornaments, the traditional Japanese New Year decorations have complex spiritual meanings: some are for protection, other for welcoming the gods (kami)… I will try to explain the most common of them, one by one…
On the porch or the entrance door it is placed the shimekazari, a small rope made from rice straws, with carefully crafted zigzag-shaped paper strips called shide.
It has the same role as the shimenawa from the Shinto shrines - to keep the bad spirits away…
But the shimekazari is also decorated with auspicious items: the daidai, a Japanese bitter orange is considered a good omen because if “daidai” 「橙」 is written with a different kanji 「代々」 can be translated as “from generation to generation". The lobster is also an auspicious item, being a symbol of extreme old age (because the lobster’s body is leaning like the body of an old man). The pine twigs are symbols of power and longevity, because they are green all the time and the fern leaves are symbols of hope and desire to have a happy family, growing from generations to generation…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: