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Kyoto New Year

Posted by
GJC (Kyoto, Japan) on 5 January 2011 in Lifestyle & Culture.

I have a little extra time during the holidays so I thought I would show a few Japanese New Year's traditions and give some context for those of you who are interested.

At New Years, especially in the period called matsunouchi (松の内) which extends from January 1 to January 7, it is common to find these little sprigs of pine posted on either side of the entrance to a Kyoto townhouse. (The angle of my photo here only shows the one.) This decoration is called called nebikimatsu (根引き松) which translates literally as "uprooted pine," and the name comes from the fact that it is literally an uprooted baby pine tree with the root still attached. The bottom of the pine just above the root is wrapped in a piece of white paper. The pine serves as the "seat" for the god of the new year, Toshigamisama (歳神様), to descend into the mortal world and to receive the offerings given in return for protecting the household in the coming year. In Kyoto it is also traditionally said that one should not leave the house during the first three days of the New Year, because Toshigamisama may escape out the door as you depart. This is one of the reasons why the traditional meal made in preparation for the New Year, called osechi (おせち), is designed to last for three days.

NIKON D300 1/160 second F/7.1 ISO 400 142 mm (35mm equiv.)

1/160 second
ISO 400
142 mm (35mm equiv.)