December 28, 2013
Welcoming the New Year with Kadamatsu!
By: Michele Gamble
Our Kadomatsu is up and welcoming not only the ancestral spirits, but our guests as well. For those unfamiliar with the tradition of the Kadomatsu let me try to explain. A kadomatsu, or “gate pine” is a traditional Japanese decoration of the New Year placed in front of homes or in businesses to welcome ancestral spirits of the harvest. They are placed after Christmas are considered temporary housing for the spirits. Designs for kadomatsu vary depending on region but are typically made of pine, bamboo, and sometimes ume tree sprigs which represent longevity, prosperity and steadfastness, respectively.
The fundamental function of the New Year ceremonies is to honor and receive the toshigami (deity), who will then bring bounty and bestow the ancestors’ blessing on everyone.” After January 15 the spirits dwelling within the kadomatsu are released when it is burned.
The central portion of the kadomatsu is formed from three large bamboo shoots. Similar to several traditions of ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), the shoots are set at different heights and represent heaven, humanity, and earth with heaven being the highest and earth being the lowest. After binding all the elements of the kadomatsu, it is bound with newly woven straw rope.
We enjoy sharing this tradition with our guests each year as we get ready to usher in the New Year, hopefully filled with health and prosperity.