Unlike most of the Western Christmas decorations, which are generally not linked to a particular story (except for the Star, which comes from the Biblical Magi tradition), the Japanese New Year decorations are filled with complex symbols, very much like the good luck charms: they are made to protect against bad luck or evil spirits and they are inviting the Kami for prosperity during the New Year. Because of that, each and every component has a well determined role.
Take, for example, the kadomatsu 「門松」 “gate pines": the rope is there to protect against evil spirits (like the shimenawa), the bamboo symbolizes strength and growth, while the pine symbolizes long life. And there are even more symbols: the 3 bamboo branches are representing the heaven (the tallest one), humanity (the medium one) and the earth…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: