Entries in toshigami (2)


Shime Kazari

When you live forever in only one part of a country, it's easy to assume that the way things are done in your region are the same nationwide. It took me two decades to realize that sansha mairi (visiting three shrines at New Year's) was a custom limited to Fukuoka. 

Similarly, the shimé kazari, a New Year's decoration placed above the entrance to homes and buildings, varies from region to region. Shime-kazari is said to originate from shime-nawa (twisted hemp and rice straw rope placed at the entrance of shrines to indicated a sacred space) and meant to keep misfortune and unclean spirits away and greet Toshigami (年神), the gods and ancestors brought with the new year.




   A kadomatsu (門松, literally gate pine) is a traditional Japanese decoration of the New Year placed in pairs in front of buildings, and to a lesser extent homes, to welcome ancestral spirits or kami of the harvest. They are placed immediately after Christmas, sometimes as early as the evening of the 25th, and remain until the 7th of January. 

   Designs for kadomatsu vary depending on region but are typically made of pinebamboo, and sometimes ume tree sprigs which represent longevity, prosperity and steadfastness, respectively.

   The fundamental function of the New Year ceremonies is to honor and receive the toshigami (deity), who will then bring a bountiful harvest for farmers and bestow the ancestors' blessing on everyone. After January 15 the kadomatsu is burned to appease the kami or toshigami and release them. (Adapted from the Wikipedia entry on kadomatsu.)

   Inside the Nishitetsu Grand Hotel

   Outside the Daimyô Elementary School

   At the entrance of the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Tenjin, Fukuoka.

   At the Seaside Momochi Hilton in Fukuoka

   In front of the popular Japanese restaurant, Chikae.