Shogatsu: Mochibana Japanese New Year Decoration

Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花
Mochibana is a Japanese New Year’s decoration that uses white and pink colored mochi wrapped around willow branches to simulate blossoms. Shogatsu signals the coming of spring in Japan, and spring is plum, peach and cherry blossoms. Why do people use mochi rather than real flowers?

Mochibana and Yukiguni 餅花 雪国
Mochibana, literally ‘mochi flower’ originated in northern Japan, in the mountain areas with long winters and roof crushing snowfalls. These areas are called yukiguni, or ‘snow country’ where naturally there are no flowers whatsoever in the winter. But, of course, people still wish to have flowers in their lives. As is often the case in Japan, people used food as a central element of a traditional decoration.

Though Kyoto is cold, but by no means, yukiguni-cold. Mochibana is a very common sight in town, especially at the traditional shops and stores.

Is Mochibana Eaten?
The usual answer is no, but several yukiguni Japanese bloggers say that traditionally it was, and still is eaten. At the Girls Festival in March, the dried mochibana decorations were taken down and the mochi removed and deepfried and eaten like crackers.

In Kyoto, Oshogatsu decorations are usually displayed until January 15th.

I snapped these photos the other day at one of my favorite wagashi shops in Kyoto, one I want to review soon.

Mochibana
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

Mochibana – detail
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

Mochibana – detail
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

Mochibana – detail
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

Mochibana
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

More Shogatsu Decoration and Ikebana
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

Shogatsu Decoration
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花
The arrow is a common motif in Shinto related decoration and talismans.

Shogatsu Decoration: Year of the Ox Kirie
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

Shogatsu Decoration
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花
Some of the talismans surrounding the light fixture are not for Shogatsu.

Shogatsu Decoration Nanten
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

Shogatsu Decoration Wakamatsu Pine
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

Shogatsu Decoration Wakamatsu Pine
Mochibana Japanese New Year Shogatsu Decoration 餅花

9 Responses to “Shogatsu: Mochibana Japanese New Year Decoration”

  1. Arun says:

    Wow! it’s amazing how a simple and somewhat silly sounding idea can have such a beautiful effect! How long are the mochibana displayed for? Wouldn’t the mochi go…stale?

  2. gaga says:

    Everything is beautiful! How creative!

  3. The mochibana decorations are beautiful!

  4. they look so pretty! What a genius idea!

  5. adam says:

    Wow. The mochibana are incredible. I’ve never seen that before. Thank you for sharing these with the world!

  6. diva says:

    i love the decoration and the mochibana is so pretty! it sounds something quite similar to nian gao – what the Chinese have in every house on display at Chinese New Year. it’s a sticky, sweet, caramel-brown mochi-like candy. They come in round shapes wrapped in some sort of leaf or in the shape of koi fish. Usually they’re either eaten, or just put on display. But in my house, once the new year is celebrated and past, mum takes them off the display, cuts it up and fries it til golden brown and crispy. delicious!

  7. Jude says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog :) Very cool pictures and info in all of your posts.

  8. pixen says:

    Oh my goshh…the Mochibana is sooooo real! IT’s amazing the skills of these wagashi makers! I have to visit Kyoto one of these days…

    Thank you for sharing so much about Japan.

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