The Garden Island
LIHUE — Kadomatsu, the traditional Japanese New Year decoration, are now ready for the public, while supplies last, said Gerald Ako, director of the Kauai Hawaii Government Employees Association.
“This year’s kadomatsu is especially nice,” Ako said. “The rains that we’ve been having came at the right time. It allowed the pine and bamboo to be able to drink all that water. We should have about 300 available for people.”
HGEA members, including several members from the Grove Farm Company, spent the latter part of last week assembling the decorations, which include three sections of arranged bamboo graced with pine branches and enhanced with sprigs of plum blossoms bound together with sisal rope.
Proceeds from the kadomatsu benefit the Charles Kendall Scholarship and Education Fund offered by the HGEA and started some years ago by Greg Enos.
Kadomatsu, translated to mean “gate pine,” is one of the hanai traditions in Hawaii. The arrangements, often in pairs, are placed at entrances to businesses and homes after Christmas and are usually left until Jan. 7.
Russell Nagata of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Komohana Research and Extension Center, wrote in Hilo’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald that the differing heights of bamboo represent heaven, humanity and earth. The choice for using bamboo symbolizes growth, prosperity and strength. The pine symbolize longevity and endurance, and the plum symbolizes steadfastness.
The arrangement is believed to serve as temporary housing, or shintai, for the ancestral spirits, or kami, and bestowed the homeowner with a bountiful harvest.
Kadomatsu are available at the HGEA office during normal office hours, Mondays through Fridays.