Japan's Seasonal Decorations

Public spaces marked with seasonal reminders of change

By Elena Lisina    - 3 min read

When you visit Japan, you can feel the season not only in the air but also in the seasonal decorations of the streets, trade districts, shops and other public places. Unlike my home country where decorations are mainly for the New Year, in Japan seasonal ornaments create a special mood of celebration throughout the year.

My first visit occurred during one September and I spotted decorative bunches of yellow, red and orange leaves on the trading street Nakamise Dori in Asakusa, flower compositions in shops and even wrapping paper with red momiji leaf prints.

During my visit to Sendai in late October the decorative theme was Halloween. Those orange pumpkin, black bat, white ghost and skull decorations were everywhere, a clear reminder of that American holiday tradition now in Japan and being so prevalent, I could feel the atmosphere of that holiday everywhere.

A Halloween decorated store
A Halloween decorated store

Most of my visits, however, have been in the spring when I can see wonderful sakura cherry blossom decorations. At the end of winter, as it slowly began to warm up, it was always nice to see sakura decorations in preparation for the season of blooming. In spring all purchases were wrapped with sakura printed papers and tied with tender green ribbons. Traditional Japanese sweets, wagashi, were made in the shapes of sakura blossoms or wrapped in sakura leaves.

Spring themed street sign in Kyoto
Spring themed street sign in Kyoto

Throughout April you will see large carps everywhere symbolising the male child holiday Kodomo-no-hi. They’re hung high and fluttering about as the wind blows. You will see carps decorating private houses, streets and many other places all over the country. In shops you will see samurai figurines and models of samurai armour. These are given to boys not as playthings but as keepsakes.

Strings of hundreds of carps near Tokyo Tower in April
Strings of hundreds of carps near Tokyo Tower in April

The entrance to that well known home of youth fashion, Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo, begins with a large street sign that changes according to the season as well as the fashions that are available. Creating the right mood for good commerce is important...

Myself, I enjoy seasonal decorations as it brings some ‘fresh air’ to everyday life.

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: https://gurushots.com/f10384/photos Matane!

Join the discussion

Elizabeth Scally a week ago
At Setsubun in February, visitors might notice fish heads on skewers with leaves of holly. The holly is meant to prick the demons, and the demons don’t like the smell of sardines, so they say. There are so many fascinating stories behind the seasonal decorations.
Kim B a week ago
I’m with the demons on this one! Bleh!
Kim B a week ago
I love Japan's seasonality, especially when it comes to fun decorations like these!
Sleiman Azizi a week ago
It keeps you on your toes. There is always something going on.