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What is Kadomatsu, which is essential for Japanese New Year holidays? Easy-to-understand explanation for foreigners

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If you are a foreigner celebrating the New Year in Japan for the first time, you may see bamboo and pine decorations in your home and wonder, ``What are these?'' In this article, we will explain how to display and dispose of kadomatsu, which are essential for the Japanese New Year.

What is Kadomatsu?

Kadomatsu is an ornamental ornament often used during Japanese New Year holidays. They are made of materials such as pine or bamboo, and many homes display them during the year-end and New Year holidays.

However, it is not mandatory or compulsory to display Kadomatsu, so foreigners do not necessarily have to display it. If you are interested, you can try displaying it.

Types of Kadomatsu

There are several types of Kadomatsu, each with slightly different designs. There are two types: the ``zundo'' type, which is made by cutting bamboo horizontally, and the ``sogi'' type, which is made by cutting the bamboo diagonally.

There are also raw kadomatsu made from real bamboo and pine, and kadomatsu made from fake bamboo and pine made of plastic.

Why do we display Kadomatsu on New Year's Day?

Kadomatsu is the place where the gods come to the house during the New Year.A sign that tells you where to enterIt is said that it will become The god that comes to your house during the New Year is called Toshigami-sama, and it is said that when Toshigami-sama comes, you will be healthy and happy. There are many types of Toshigami, and the famous Namahage of Akita is one of them.

Period for decorating Kadomatsu

The period for decorating Kadomatsu isFrom around the end of December to around the 15th of JanuaryIt is up to. They are often displayed until January 7th in the Kanto region and January 15th in the Kansai region. The day you start decorating Avoid December 29thThat's the point. 29 is ``nijuuku'' in Japanese, so it is said to be bad because it means ``double suffering.''

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How to decorate Kadomatsu

The only way to decorate a kadomatsu is to place it at the entrance, so even foreigners won't have to worry about it. However, in the case of an apartment, you cannot leave things outside like you would in a house, so you need to place them in a way that does not disturb other residents.

For a detached house

If you live in a detached house, place a kadomatsu in front of the entrance or entrance door. There are two types of Kadomatsu: ``Omatsu'' and ``Mamatsu.'' "Male" means 'male', and 'female' means 'female'. Place the male pine on the left and the female pine on the the correct way to place it.

In the case of an apartment

If you live in an apartment, placing a large kadomatsu in the hallway in front of the door will be a nuisance, so it would be a good idea to place a smaller kadomatsu inside the house. Depending on your apartment, you may be able to leave it outside, so be sure to check the rules for that apartment if you want to leave it outside.

How to dispose of Kadomatsu

Kadomatsu are disposed of after the New Year, but since they are sacred to welcome the gods, you need to be a little careful about how you dispose of them. " DondoyakiThe official way to dispose of it is to burn it in a ritual called ``But if you purify it, you can throw it away normally on garbage day.''

burn with dondoyaki

Dondo-yaki is a ritual held at shrines and temples around the middle of January every year to burn and dispose of New Year's decorations such as Kadomatsu and calligraphy. If there is a shrine or temple nearby that sells dondo-yaki, it would be a good idea to take the kadomatsu to them and have them dispose of it.

Dondo-yaki is sometimes held by local neighborhood associations or PTAs, so if you don't have a shrine or temple in your area, you might want to check it out.

Cleanse and throw away on garbage day

If you don't have a place to do dondo-yaki nearby, or if you don't want to do dondo-yaki, there is no problem in throwing it away on the regular garbage day.

However, since Kadomatsu is a sacred decoration to welcome the gods, it is a good idea to "purify" it. To purify the kadomatsu, simply sprinkle a little salt on it.

Places and prices where you can buy Kadomatsu

The price of Kadomatsu varies greatly depending on the grade, but small Kadomatsu can cost around 2,000 to 3,000 yen, while large, high-class ones can cost around 20,000 to 30,000 yen.

The most common places to buy Kadomatsu are supermarkets and home centers, but if you want to buy a high-priced one, you can also buy it at a specialty store.

buy from a specialist

In Japan, there are specialized companies that sell kadomatsu, and you can buy high-quality kadomatsu that are not sold at supermarkets or home centers. It can often be purchased online.

Buy at a supermarket or home center

Supermarkets and home centers don't usually sell Kadomatsu, but in December they will be added to their product lineup. You can buy relatively cheap Kadomatsu at supermarkets and home centers.

New Year's decorations other than Kadomatsu

In addition to Kadomatsu, items that are often decorated during New Year's in Japan include ``shimenawa'' and ``kagami mochi.'' You don't necessarily have to decorate with these, but if you do, you can enjoy Japanese New Year even more.


Shimenawa is a rope decorated with plants such as pine trees, and is hung at entrances and other places. Like Kadomatsu, Shimenawa also has a religious meaning of welcoming the god of the year. The timing of displaying and disposal methods are the same as for Kadomatsu.


Kagamimochi is a decorative item made by stacking two large rice cakes and placing a mandarin orange or other object on top. It has the meaning of wishing for a good harvest and good health for the year. Unlike kadomatsu, kagami-mochi is often placed in the living room instead of at the entrance.


Kadomatsu is a decoration to welcome the gods during the New Year, and although it is not necessary to display it, you can enjoy the Japanese New Year even more. Many foreigners believe in other religions such as Christianity, but if you are interested, I think it would be fun to try out Japanese religious goods.

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