This week I spent a few days in Kyoto in Japan with my family, the coldest week so far in this winter season (such a wonderful luck!). I have visited Gion area, the North East area in Kyoto city, where I was always hoping to go. It is one of the areas where the Japanese traditional culture is embracing the entire atmosphere and the lifestyle of people. In the beginning of the year, various shime-kazari(s) (shimenawa) on houses’ front doors welcome the new year and ward off evil spirits. It is interesting that there are different designs of shime-kazari found in different places in Japan. When I was walking streets in Gion, I saw these designs:
One horizontal line with straight vertical straws in the middle – start making from left end (as you can see the section tied with a straw), certain numbers of straws are merged to the main bundle as it is twisted. Some had the tied end on right hand side.the orange attached is called “daidai (橙)”, meaning that the generation continues forever (coming from the nature of orange; it doesn’t fall off a tree even in the winter).
This design has a twisted spiral on the top of it. It’s form is vertically long, unlike the first one (above). It has a symmetrical structure that the left and right side are the reflection of each other.
Third design I found had a bunch of straight straws simply tied with a piece of white paper.this is one of orthodox style of shime-kazari in Japan as it is commonly sold in supermarkets or department stores.
I enjoyed looking different designs and thinking the cultural background of people – why they chose that shime-kazari – on the same street in Gion 🙂