22 December 2023
Make Your Own Luck: Creating Shimekazari with Team Musubi
It's now December which means the end of the year looms ahead. It's time to prepare for 2024 — and in Japan, this is no small undertaking. (You can read more about the New Year traditions in our blog post here.) In addition to carrying out the osouji, the year-end deep clean, around December 13th (known as kotohajime) to December 28th, you'll start seeing a variety of items go up in Japanese households. One of the most iconic items is the shimekazari, or new year wreath.
Shimekazari is made of shimenawa, a tightly wrapped rope made of straw that is then hung over the torii, or gates, at Shinto shrines. The shimenawa is hung there to create a boundary between the sacred space of the shrine, where gods live, and the outside world, where bad spirits wander. Shimekazari serves a similar purpose. It is hung on the entry door to keep your home sacred and protected from misfortune. It is often decorated with shide, zig-zag paper strips, and additional auspicious items, such as daidai, a citrus fruit that represents longevity.
These small wreaths that can be purchased pre-decorated at stores across Japan, or done DIY to make it your own style. Here at Musubi Kiln, we've done the latter.
- Modern-style Shimekazari
- Minimalist-style Shimekazari
- Kawaii-style Shimekazari
- Fusion-style Shimekazari
Tominaga-san went for a modern-style shimekazari, using cranes and turtles to decorate, which are a pair often seen in Japanese culture and they represent long life. She said, "It's perfect for the New Year. Red nandina and golden rice ornaments add to the festive and glamorous aesthetic."
Aiba-san's minimalist wreath made a big impression at the table. She told us she made it as a gift for her mom, whose home has a narrow entryway, which informed the petite form and simple decoration: "To give it a festive New Year's feel, I decided on red and white as the main colors. In the center, I attached a beautifully tied decorative cord with a tassel, and above it, bright red nandina berries, a symbol of winter. Lastly, I added a red and white paper ornament, handmade by Yukawa-san, designed to resemble the traditional shihobeni, the colored paper used for placing kagami mochi."
Yamashita-san's shimekazari turned out super kawaii, utilizing cute shapes and colors all throughout the wreath. She wanted it to make it pop and cute, saying, "I attached traditional motifs like mizuhiki knots because I want to use it as an interior decoration. I added a lot of pieces to create something colorful and cute."
Dana-san's shimekazari combines the usual Christmas colorway of red and green with the classic New Year's colorway of red and white for something that brings together both American and Japanese culture. "I wanted to make something that was eye-catching and beautiful so I would be happy to see it on my door when I arrived home. I also wanted to enhance the beautiful shape of the wreath, so I went a bit asymmetrical with the nandina berries and camellia blossoms. The tassel at the bottom elongates it just a little more, maybe for extra luck."
We hope this has inspired you to do a little DIY ahead of the New Year holiday! If you make your own shimekazari, please tag @musubikiln on Instagram to show us your creation.