New Year’s kadomatsu helps students

LIHUE — Darren Wong, president of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, said he was working hard before even starting to work on Saturday.

Wong was among the volunteers who turned out to create at least 350 kadomatsu, or New Year’s arrangements, at the Kauai HGEA offices at 3213 Aikahi Street in Lihue.

Wong said the Kauai HGEA is the only unit that makes the kadomatsu as a fundraiser for the Kendall Scholarship program.

Cedric Macadangdang, a former recipient of the Kendall Scholarship, was among the volunteers cutting the pink plum blossoms into stalks for the kadomatsu.

“I received my scholarship in 2005,” Macadangdang, a senior system engineer with Raytheon Missile System, said. “It absolutely helped me get to where I am, and I’m back here so other kids are able to get the opportunity I had.”

Gerald Ako, head of the Kauai HGEA, said the kadomatsu are on sale during office hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (closed on Christmas).

“These are popular items and we’ll have them for customers as long as the supply lasts,” Ako said.

The kadomatsu, or gate pine, is an arrangement used to decorate homes during New Year’s. According to Japanese tradition, the arrangements are placed at both sides of the entrance of the home.

Consisting of bamboo stems, pine tree branches and a plum branch, the arrangements combine the elements of three lucky symbols — longevity, gentleness, and fidelity.

The kadomatsu serve as the dwelling place for the god, tradition says, which brings good luck at the start of the year.

The kadomatsu are usually displayed until Jan. 7 after which time it is disposed of by burning.

Duke Nakamatsu serves as the chair for this year’s kadomatsu. He said people can call 245-6751 to place orders for the kadomatsu, or simply drop by the HGEA office.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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