Kadomatsu

A kadomatsu is a traditional Japanese New Years decoration placed in front of entrances between Christmas and January 7.

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These symbolic gates are meant to welcome the ancestral spirits or kami of the harvest. The next two pictures were taken in the streets of Asakasa.

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Depending on the region, a kadomatsu is typically made from 3 diagonally cut bamboo, pine or ume shoots or twigs bound together with a straw rope.

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Each type has a spiritual meaning: Pine represents longevity and bamboo represents prosperity, while ume represents steadfastness. The next two pictures were taken in front of modern buildings in Roppongi Hills.

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The 3 pieces are cut or set at different heights to represent heaven (tallest), humanity, and earth (shortest) …

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… though some place the humanity and earth at the same height.

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Kadomatsu are placed in pairs on either side of the gate, representing male and female (yes, in the picture below of the entrance of the Excel Hotel Tokyu in Asakasa, there is another one not shown).

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This last picture was taken in Center Gai in Shibuya, a large one with lots of flowers.

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Check out Three Steps Over Japan’s attempt to create a kadomatsu papercraft.

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