Places around Matsumoto have started adorning themselves with the traditional Japanese decorations for New Year’s! If you go to Matsumoto Castle or major shrines like Yohashira Shrine, you’ll find impressive kadomatsu set up at the castle gates and in front of the shrine — the ones at Matsumoto Castle are especially huge!
Kadomatsu are usually constructed out of cut bamboo, pine branches, and sometimes other plants or ornaments, and almost look like giant flower arrangements. They come in many different styles, so it’s fun to walk around and see all the varieties (check out some of the photos below too!). You will find them set up in pairs in front of houses, businesses, and shrines from late December to early January. Kadomatsu are thought of as a kind of “temporary housing” for the gods during the New Year’s holidays and therefore bring in good fortune for the New Year.
Besides kadomatsu, there are many other kinds of New Year’s decorations which, depending on the type, may be hung above doorways, on doors, on gate posts, or simply set up on a shelf. Along the main street in downtown Matsumoto, the Christmas lights have been replaced with special New Year made of pine branches and bundles of rice attached to each of the light posts.
If you’re in decorating your own house Japanese style this New Year’s, go check out the New Year’s decoration market going on now until December 30 on Nawate Street right in front of Yohashira Shrine (Google map)! The vendors have a big selection of decorations (including both big and mini kadomatsu!) that, if nothing else, are fun to look and get a feel for the festive spirit of the Japanese New Year 🙂
Some of the stands are selling daruma dolls of all colors and sizes, too! Daruma are often bought around the New Year, as they represent a wish, goal, or resolution you want to accomplish during the next year (you can read more about daruma on wikipedia).
And, some of the sellers are quite festive all by themselves!
Enjoy the New Year!!