Kadomatsu – Japanese Bamboo Decoration

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Do you know Kadomatsu? Kadomatsu is a traditional Japanese decoration. It is usually placed in front of houses, or left and right of entrance paths to a building or shop.

They are placed after the celebration of Christmas and stay more or less until the 15th of January. Its purpose is to welcome the ancestral spirits of the harvest season, also to bless the establishment in the year that follows.

This decoration is basically made of 3 pieces of bamboo cut diagonally, in three different sizes. Pine branches tied by a straw rope are also placed.

Each item has a meaning: bamboo represents strength and prosperity and pine represents long life. The 3 sizes of bamboo represent heaven (the highest), humility (the middle).

Kadomatsu - Japanese bamboo decoration

Kadomatsu is made of 3 pieces of bamboo cut diagonally of different sizes and pine branches or one and tied with a straw rope. 

Every item kadomatsu has a spiritual meaning: bamboo is a symbol of strength and prosperity and pine symbolizes long life. Also, the 3 bamboo pieces represent heaven (the tallest), humanity (the middle) and earth (the smallest).

Origin and assembly of kadomatsu

The origin of Kadomatsu traditions and practices is Chinese. The use of this decoration takes place before the 7th century. In Japan, it began to be used in the 8th century, brought from China.

Before, Kadomatsu was made with pine and other related and simple materials. Materials that are common today began to be used around the 14th century.

Kadomatsu - Japanese bamboo decoration

The assembly as already said is basically made of bamboo and pine. The center of Kodamatsu is usually made of three bamboo shoots in three different sizes.

Shoots and pines are joined together with freshly woven straw or straw rope. After this simple assembly, the decoration is ready to be placed at the entrance of residences or stores.

Another important event takes place on January 15th, known as Dondoyaki. In this event the kadomatsu and other decorations of new Year are burned in a ritual. This is done inside a shrine, school, courtyard or some open place.

New Year's decorations are stacked in a pyramid shape and set on fire. In this fire are roasted mochi (rice balls). The belief says that whoever eats these mochis will be healthy and prosper throughout the year.

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