Happy new year!
I cleaned my bike with magical pink solution on new year’s eve, and Shu helped me attach the mini-shimekazari to the front. For the next week, this bit of rice, pine, paper, and berrry may give the gods some place to rest as I bike to the late night sento.
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. Longtime Shiho studio student Hagiwara-san led the workshop and provided these amazing materials, including red berries, pine, paper, and seed pods.
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.
Uniformity and order can be even more stylized in Tokyo human environments than gardens. How is it that every passenger in this frame is a man in a black suit? Can that small screen transport us somewhere more magical and more vivid than our surroundings?
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.
Fellow Shiho ceramic studio student Hagiwara-san organized a new year ornament or shimekazari workshop. It was so fun to work with beautiful, fresh materials, including several types of pine needles, pine cones and woody seed husks, Shinto folded paper, rice, ribbons and ropes, berries and rose hips, even dried chocolate cosmos and other leaves.
In past years I’ve bought them from Muji or even the supermarket. It was fun how all of the hand-made shimekazaris turned out differently. Some had circular and oval bases made of twigs and bamboo, others were tied together in a bunch. I used wires to attach the mini pine cones and even a yuzu.
Hagiwara-san is also a loyal Tokyo Green Space reader. Thank you!
am sorry I didn’t see Sky Tree lit up for one of the first times this new year’s eve. Fortunately, the fantastic photographer and blogger Muza Chan shared this lovely image.
So many people think they can’t grow food or have a garden in the city. Near the University of Tokyo, I spotted this amazing mini-farm on a concrete pad. I love how they are using recycled and simple materials, like plastic sacks as container pots. It seems mostly cherry tomatoes, bitter melon, and shiso, with some incredible hand-made supports.
Speaking of growing your own, my mother in law was talking about cooking with rhubarb, and I naturally suggested strawberries. Apparently it is very difficult to find commercial strawberries in summer in Japan because it’s become known as a new year fruit. It seems like there’s an opportunity there for some local summer strawberries without the hothouses.
Pink Tentacle has assembled a collection of historic new year’s cards (年賀状, nengajou) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Seeing all these different rabbits featured in vibrant designs with national and cultural messages is a delight and inspiration. The one above is from
1927 1915 (via Twitter’s @hizaga). I wonder whether we’ll be seeing more rabbits this year in Tokyo: as food, companions, or wildlife?