Kagami Mochi – Happy New Year

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What you see, is a stillness, a time when family, the newborn, the young and the old and very old are all united and show their appreciation for one another. The Kagami mocha @ 2013 – red – white – gold and the gods of good luck for a long, strong and prosperous life. The traditional Japanese New Year decoration includes many symbols and important expressions of wisdom, a connection for all Japanese.

Japan continues to show their utmost respect for nature and these gifts are included in the New Year’s celebration. The story telling of the past and future for our children and grandchildren. The importance between “past life”, “present life” and “future life” is so ever-present. Nature is used to be symbolized as beautiful, pure, strong and signifies good fortune. This ritual has developed over many centuries with all good intentions.

The fan at the top is the pinnacle of symbolic, with the small end representing birth and the blades symbolizing the many possible paths leading away from this beginning. The colors on the fan are also significant. Red and white are considered lucky, and gold is thought to attract wealth. The golden rope tied in a loop can signify the sacramental union itself.

The lobster at the center of focus is tied by a golden rope a symbol of luck and fortune. The Samurai of Kamakura who saw an auspicious connection with their armour (great armouri) and the back shell of the lobster. But in fact, the lobster represents a certain courage and strength in old age. The brittle appearance yet strong back of the spiny lobster is born young.

Often in Japan you’ll see the very old people hunched over and walking with no chance to look up. The bent back is associated the lobster’s back as it is bent when young. So the this symbolizes the special wish; the spirit in the worn body should remain young forever.

The important connection between respect for nature, mankind and the gods. There are also references that lead us to believe that the spiny lobster gets their red color from the first sun at Futamigaura, in Ise, where the Gods reside. First named by Kaibara Ekiken (1603-1714), because most lobster catches come from the Ise area.

The intersecting is a branch of persimmon that balance the idea of harvest and carry this “divine fruit”; as it was known to the ancient Greeks as “the fruit of the gods”, or often referred to as “nature’s candy”. In philosophy, the painting of persimmons by Mu Qi (13th Century) exemplifies the progression from youth to age as a symbol of the progression from bitterness to sweetness. The persimmon when young is bitter and inedible, but as it ages it becomes sweet and beneficial to humankind. Thus, as we age, we overcome rigidity and prejudice and attain compassion and sweetness.

They red and white colors are perhaps the key to story; according to Henry Dreyfus, the word for red and white, Kohaku, is pronounced as one word in Japanese. Ko means red, while haku translates as white. Their use together immediately signifies happiness and celebration to the Japanese viewer. The combination of red and white in the decorative ornaments used on wedding or engagement presents –noshi or kaishi– has a compelling quality that suggests man’s urge to create a bond between his own life and that of the gods.  Red and white are also the colors of the uniforms that shrine maidens wear denoting these colors divine nature.

The two round mochi (rice cakes), the smaller placed atop the larger, and a daidai, a Japanese bitter orange. The name daidai, originally meaning several generations and written as originates from the fruit staying on the tree for several years if not picked. The color of the fruit returns to green in the spring.

In addition, konbu which you can see faintly at the left corner of the photo. The “seaweed of the horse of the God” which is a symbol of pleasure and of joy, because its name is deemed to be a homonym for gladness; and mochibana, artificial blossoms formed of rice flour and straw.”

All sits on a stand which is supposed to ward off fires from the house for the following years. The sheets of paper called folded into lightning shapes similar to those seen on sumo wrestler’s belts. They are called gohei and are connected to Shinto rituals used to cleanse an object.

This mochi is finally broken and eaten in a Shinto ritual on the second Saturday or Sunday of January.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Life Cycles