decoration

Have you seen a new year decoration on a car or bike?

bike_shimekazari_shinjuku

車か自転車につけられたしめ飾りを見たことがありますか。これは、手仕事屋久家で作ったぼくの手作りです。新宿で。

I made this one at Kuge Crafts.

Front door decorations made by hand celebrate the new year

shimekazari_nakano_frontdoor
マンションのドアに、手作りのしめ飾りを飾っています。萩原さんのワークショップで作りました。楽しかったです。

Here is the new year’s decoration (shimekazari) I created at Shiho studio for our front door. Although there’s a common look to commercial ones, including these at Muji, there’s a lot of variety in terms of shape and materials.

Below is Kuge sensei’s lovely arrangement at the entrance to her studio. The tiny black ball with three colorful petals is a traditional toy played with a badminton-like shuttlecock.  shimekazari_kuge_studioLongtime Shiho studio student Hagiwara-san led the workshop and provided these amazing materials, including red berries, pine, paper, and seed pods.

hagiwara_shimekazari kuge_yoshiko_meg_shimekazari

Tokyo dog welcomes the new year on a busy corner

shimekazari_dog_takaido_onsen
賑やかな街角で、犬が新年を迎えています。銭湯に行く途中に、ファマリーレスや古い自宅があります。ポストの上の犬としめ飾りが一緒なので、陽気な気持ちになります。

On my way to the sento, I passed this old house on a busy corner, across from a “family restaurant” featuring its own parking lot. In addition to a large sidewalk garden, the home features a welcoming dog above the mail box. I think the dog looks good with the new year decoration hanging above him.

New year decorations of pine and bamboo at local shrine

nakano_shrine_newyear_decoration

地元の神社には素敵な新年の飾り付けがあります。今年、写真をもっと上手になりたいので、新しいプロジェクトを探しています。

I love the simple pine and bamboo strapped to the entry gate of my local shrine. This is where we start the new year a few minutes past midnight with the neighbors drinking amezake and enjoying a small fire. Even the graffiti is cute. This new year, I will try to improve my photography, and seek a greater capacity for identifying the path of least resistance.

A long line waits at shrine to give an offering at festival

神社の献金を上げるのために、待っている人が多いです。大宮八幡というきれいな神社に、夫は子供のときに、よく行きました。杉並区の善福寺川の隣です

Omiya Hachiman shrine is near where my husband grew up in Suginami ward. It’s also next to a beautiful green corridor that follows the Zenpukuji river.  I love the elegant building, and all the decorations including the purple cloth with Edo crests, the red and white stripes, the rope and lightning bolts, and the big lanterns.

Sacred trees in courtyard of Meiji Jingu

この二つの大きい木を繋ぐ神道の飾りはとても素敵だと思います。明治神宮で。

I love this hemp rope and lightening-bolt like paper decoration that makes visible the sacredness of the mature trees in the center of Meiji Jingu shrine. Approaching the shrine through a magnificent planned forest, visitors sense that this place has been set apart from a city that is in state of constant change.

Do wind chimes keep you cooler?

Japanese believe that wind chimes, particularly the sound of glass on metal, make you feel cooler in the summer. I am not sure if I agree, but it’s a nice seasonal decoration. When the wind is too strong on my balcony, I use a clothes pin to silence it.

Balcony vegetable garden

This year I am experimenting with many types of vegetables and fruit in my balcony garden: kiwi, eggplant, watermelon, cucumber, bitter melon, corn, and lemon. Plus I have two types of thyme, parsley, rosemary, and basil.

These photos are from May when I planted the starter plants in these soft fabric pots and coconut husk soil. I added marigolds for color and possible bug and pest repellant. I am not sure what will happen with some of these vegetables: will they produce food? help shape the summer green curtain?

I like to think of these vegetables as experiments, as fun, and equal parts food and decoration. Almost all vegetables and fruit provide greenery, flowers, and, in the case of lemons, fragrance.

New year decorations

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.

Shrines prepares for new year

The small shrine near our apartment is preparing for new year. The entrance gate has pine and bamboo decorations, and the tent is ready for the celebration. This shrine is very charming because of its small scale and its housing our extremely local gods. I have found myself drawn here several times this year, and I look forward to spending some minutes there to welcome the new year with the neighbors and the spirits that connect us with each other and this small part of Tokyo.