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I Love Japanese New Year’s Decorations!

NewYearsKado5

In Japan, the frenzy of weird Santas and blue poinsettias are whisked away the day after Christmas, and replaced with something far better…new year’s decorations! I never saw them before I lived in Tokyo, but it was totally love at first sight.

This is called a shimenawa, and although it comes in many shapes, it always includes rice straw, to ensure there will be plenty of rice and snacks with eyes in the year to come.
This is called a shimenawa, and although it comes in many shapes, it always includes rice straw, to ensure there will be plenty of rice and snacks with eyes in the year to come.
The white things stacked on this lacquer stand are kagami mochi – "mirror" rice cakes that give a tip o' the beanie to the sun goddess who shut herself in a cave to pout, plunging the earth into darkness until she was lured out by catching a glimpse of herself in a mirror held up by a fellow goddess. (This is just a little fake one, but last year I posted a picture of the biggest real one I've ever seen here!)
The white things stacked on this lacquer stand are kagami mochi – “mirror” rice cakes that give a tip o’ the beanie to the sun goddess who shut herself in a cave to pout, plunging the earth into darkness until she was lured out by catching a glimpse of herself in a mirror held up by a fellow goddess. (This is just a little fake one, but last year I posted a picture of the biggest real one I’ve ever seen!)
This is a little version of a kadomatsu, with bamboo, plum blossoms & pine all bundled up together with rice straw bring a triple whammy of long life, piles of wealth, and everlasting faithfulness to the house.
This is a little version of a kadomatsu, with bamboo, plum blossoms & pine all bundled up together with rice straw bring a triple whammy of long life, piles of wealth, and everlasting faithfulness to the house.
Every twelve years, each zodiac animal gets its turn in the spotlight. This time, it's the happy sheep year. These plaster animals are really popular, and I'm always amazed at how they can make ANY animal cute, even when it's the year of the snake!
Every twelve years, each zodiac animal gets its turn in the spotlight. This time, it’s the happy sheep year. These plaster animals are really popular, and I’m always amazed at how they can make ANY animal cute, even when it’s the year of the snake!
This isn't exactly a decoration, but I can't resist a shot of my favorite kind of sake, because you can only get at New Year's! Taruzake is stored in barrels made of Japanese cedar, and it takes on a slight flavor of the wood. If you are with me on New Years in Japan, I'm very sorry, but you have to try some! ^_^
This isn’t exactly a decoration, but I can’t resist a shot of my favorite kind of sake, because you can only get at New Year’s! Taruzake is stored in barrels made of Japanese cedar, and it takes on a slight flavor of the wood. If you are with me on January 1st in Japan, I’m very sorry, but I will make you drink some! ^_^

New year’s decorations are sold in November & December at small shops in Asakusabashi, and shimenawa are sold at many shrines & temples in the last half of December. Directions & maps are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon!

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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