I like Japanese “kadomatsau,” a traditional New Year’s threshold decoration. Every New Year I take as many pictures of them as I can. I own a few small, cheap ones purchased at 100-yen shops, plus two full-sized (plastic) ones that I bought years ago at the Tokyu Hands variety department store in Shinjuku. Florists sell them, and I noticed that the garden/nursery department of the nearby Shimachu Homes home goods store sells a nice selection. (I am tempted to buy more, even though I have no need of them, I have no space, plus my wife would kill me if I did.) Kadomatsu and other traditional Japanese New Year's decorations illustrate the relative universality of using evergreen boughs as decorations during northern winters. Use of green boughs and firelight span cultures.
A kadomatsu (門松, "gate pine") is a traditional Japanese decoration of the New Year placed in pairs in front of homes and businesses to welcome ancestral spirits or “kami” of the harvest. They are placed after Christmas until January 7th and are considered temporary housing for kami. Designs for kadomatsu vary depending on region but are typically made of pine, bamboo, and sometimes plum tree sprigs which represent longevity, prosperity and steadfastness, respectively. The fundamental function of the New Year ceremonies is to honor and receive the “toshigami” (deity), who will then bring a bountiful harvest for farmers and bestow the ancestors’ blessing on everyone. After January 15 the kadomatsu is burned to appease the kami or toshigami and release them.