I’ve written before about this shikimi (シキミ) tree that’s thriving outside this wood house, long after it’s been unoccupied. The tree even jumped its pot, & the neighbors give it the occasional pruning to keep it out of the street.
At night and in bloom, it’s very alluring. But S warns me, “Don’t touch that poisonous tree.” Also known as Japanese star anise, the tree can be burned as incense. For tea, stick to the Chinese star anise, if you don’t want severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract and digestive organs.
Above is a kadomatsu, or new year’s decoration that rests on the ground. These large ones are usually in front of businesses. This one is in front of one of my favorite Tokyo haunts: the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium constructed for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and open to the public now in central Tokyo.
The materials are bamboo, pine, straw and red berries. I love the decorative rope flower and the splayed straw at the base. Below is the shimekazari hanging outside of our apartment door. Notice the folded paper and rice stalk. After the holiday, these plant-based new year’s symbols are burned at shrines. So different than the un-ceremonial sidewalk dumping of US Christmas trees.
Happy new year! Best wishes for a bright new decade.