Matsu, Take and Ume

New Year holiday symbols in Japan

By Elena Lisina    - 2 min read

In Japan, the traditional decoration for the New Year, called kadomatsu, consists of pine branches and bamboo stalks. The Japanese kanji characters used for kadomatsu literally mean gate-pine. Entrances to homes will feature these decorations during the New Year period.

Pine in a traditional garden
Pine in a traditional garden

Pine

Pines are an unpretentious tree and can adapt to many conditions. In Japan, they are called matsu no ki, or matsu for short, and grow in the south, in the north, on the seashore where they are shaped by the winds, and even exploiting bare rocks! Pine is an evergreen tree and its green color pleases at any time of the year; accordingly, pine trees are always present in Japanese traditional gardens. In Japan, matsu is considered a symbol of courage, perseverance and longevity.

Is it really a grass?
Is it really a grass?

Bamboo

Bamboo is a gigantic tree-like grass, the tallest grass on Earth. Known as take in Japanese (pronounced ta-ke), bamboo is the fastest growing plant, adding 70-100cm of length per day. The height of mature bamboo in the natural environment can reach 35m, and its shoots grow by an average of 70-80cm per day. Strong and solid bamboo stalks have long been used in the construction of houses, bridges, and used for making furniture, tatami and other household utensils. In Japan, take symbolizes eternal youth and strength.

Ume plum blossoms are a symbol of courage
Ume plum blossoms are a symbol of courage

In addition to kadomatsu, festive symbols, which are especially popular for the New Year, include a blooming plum.

Plum

Plum trees, or ume, (pronounced oo-meh) bloom in February and in the past, the blossoms served as a samurai symbol and was used in kamon house crests. Plum blossoms are just as beautiful as cherry blossoms, and many Japanese prefer plum! In Japan, ume are symbols of spring triumphant over winter, virtue and courage overcoming difficulties, marriage and happiness

The combination of pine, bamboo and plum symbolizes courage, virtue, strength, fortitude, eternal youth and longevity - all traditional wishes for the New Year!

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

Здравствуйте!Меня зовут Елена Лисина, и я являюсь Партнёром Japan Travel, ответственным за русскую версию. Путешествия пока невозможны, но есть время, чтобы продумать маршрут предстоящей поездки, пользуясь богатыми материалами сообщества, отвечающим самым разным интересам! Я буду публиковать блоги с разработанными маршрутами по разной тематике, так что приглашаю всех заинтересованных .

Original by Elena Lisina