The New Year is undoubtedly the most anticipated and important holiday for the Japanese. It is a long celebration that runs December 31 to January 3. During this period, all sorts of ceremonies and customs are practiced.Here’s a fascinating one: the hanging of Shimekazari on top of the house entrance to prevent bad spirits from entering and to invite the Toshigami (歳神), or Shinto deity, to descend and visit. This traditional New Year decoration is made of shimenawa, a sacred Shinto straw rope, and other materials such as bitter oranges, ferns, and white ritual paper strips called shide.

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