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Japanese New Year Shimenawa wreath is gradually evolving and changing

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Until about 20 years ago, the term “wreath” dis not exist in Japanese language. Nowadays however many people use the word of “wreath” (as is) without translating into Japanese. Not only the language but also various cultures are influenced by the United States.

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Take winter holiday decoration for instance, one of Japanese traditional New Year decorations called Shimenawa wreath is gradually losing its original traditional design concept and getting affected by American style of wreaths. The main materials of Shimenawa wreath are ropes made of rice straws or hemps. This rope is decorated with evergreen plant such as pine needles. Shimenawa wreath is usually mounted on the entrance of houses during New Year Holidays.

As far as the materials of Shimenawa wreath and the location where they are displayed, there is no change at all compared with traditional ones. However if we take a precise look at the shape and color of Shimenawa wreath, we can find it is gradually changing. At the moment, there are many Shimenawa wreath which looks like being made according to European or American design concept.

Namely we can find quite colorful ropes these days although the ropes of traditional Shimenawa wreaths have been keeping the original natural color of straws or hemps ropes and no artificial color has been put on the ropes until quite recently. At the moment, we can find even pink color Shimenawa wreath that does not look like a Japanese traditional Shimenawa wreath.

Only because there is a big difference in the materials and also the way of making holiday wreaths between the United States and Japan, we can quite easily distinguish between these two wreaths. As mentioned in the above, some of Japanese Shimenawa wreaths are quite different from the traditional ones in terms of shape and color.

Unlike Japanese traditional floral art called Ikebana, Shimenawa wreath is not so well known outside of Japan. Needless to say this particular New Year ornament originated in Japan has not yet given any influence on American or European holiday wreaths. A couple of years ago, California Flower Art Academy was planning to hold a seminar for making Shimenawa wreath. However no sufficient number of students signed up for this seminar seemingly because of lacking awareness of this particular wreath in California and the plan of holding seminar was not implemented quite unfortunately.

Shimenawa wreath may be better known in the future outside of Japan as well. California Flower Art Academy offers a variety of floral arrangement programs from European designs to Japanese Ikebana, wedding to funeral decorations AND beginner to professional levels. If you are looking for a floral school offering quality lessons, California Flower Art Academy can help. The school has been teaching local people in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley since 1990 as a floral school certified by Flower Decorators Association (Tokyo Japan). You can start from Introductory Program for less than $100. For more information about the school, contact



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