Shimekazari

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.

I put my new year’s shimekazari decoration on my bike’s “grille”

bike_shimekazari

大晦日に自転車を掃除しました。自転車用のミニしめ飾りを作って、まえに飾りました。銭湯に夜行くとき、神様を迎えられます。

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.

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.

Making new year’s ornaments at Shiho

史火陶芸教室の生徒さんの一人、萩原さんがしめ飾りの作り方を教えました。材料はとても素敵だったと思います。様々なマツ、松ぼっくり、紙垂、稲穂、リボン、縄、ベリー、バラの実、乾燥した葉や花を使いました。お店で買ったしめ飾りよりずっと素敵です。萩原さんはこのブログをいつも読んでくれています。ありがとうございます。

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!

Providing a temporary home for the gods in Tokyo: Shimekazari and Kadomatsu for the New Year

東京のお正月の時だけですが、神様を迎え入れます.

Tokyo residents and small businesses welcome the gods in temporary homes built of bamboo, pine, and plum blossoms.

I love how the best ones are hand-crafted from pine, bamboo, and plum blossoms. They are intended to be temporary homes for the Shinto gods (kami, 神様). I like the idea that you can create a temporary house for the gods to visit at new year. The three heights of the kamomastu represent heaven, humanity, and earth- in descending order. The shimekazari are smaller, with Shinto rope holding charms such as oranges, folded paper, rice straw, and ferns.

Shimekazari (標飾り) and Kadomatsu (門松) are traditional New Year’s ornaments placed on walls and on the sidewalks outside shops and homes. The city simultaneously empties of people and fills with physical connections to mountains and spirits. This year I took photos of the widest variety I could find in the areas I visit on typical days: on a car bumper, outside a sento, next to a wall of cigarette advertisements, on a busy boulevard, outside a barbershop, pachinko parlor, 24 hour convenience store, and a department store.

After the holiday, these decorations should be burned at a shrine. By mid-January, they are already a faded memory.

See more photos after the jump.

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Shimekazari at Muji

On my way to price a vaccuum cleaner for our tatami floors (ended up buying at 1300 yen used vaccuum at a recycle shop), I was surprised to see this display of shimekazari at Muji, which was busy blasting Xmas music and offering holiday specials.

Shimekazari are end of the year Shinto displays for the home. They can include rice, rope, pine, and folded paper, and welcome ancestral harvest kami or spirits. Smaller ones hang on the door, and larger ones sit outside of homes and shops.

Seeing shimekazari inside Muji was an uncanny juxtaposition of Shinto shrine and modern commerce, old Japan and Xmas, agrarian and urban.