“Hana-mochi” Flowers are Lightening Up the Mood of Takayama
“Hana-mochi,” A Traditional Decoration for the New Year’s Holiday in Takayama“Hana-mochi“ is a decoration that have been decorating the New Year’s holidays in Hida area for hundreds of years.
In Japanese, ‘hana’ means flower and ‘mochi’ means rice-cake, so a “hana-mochi” is a flower-like decoration made out of rice-cakes. In this region, hana-mochi are made with branches stuck on a stump, and the branches are decorated with white & red rice-cakes.
These are made in December to decorate the festive New Year with flowers, where deep snows covers the land and there’s no real flowers in the winter.
In the past, these were also called as “mayu-dama“. ‘Mayu’ means cocoon, and ‘tama (dama)’ means ball.
They were decorated in similar way to pray for the safety of the silkworms or the good production of silk. Since many farmers in Hida area used to earn money from silk cultivation in the winter, the silkworms were very important for them.
Also, mochi is one of the sacred food dedicated for the gods in Japan, so I suppose there’s some meanings as an offering to the gods.
After the New Year’s holidays, the “hana-mochi” gradually dry up and drop off. People fry them and make “arare” (small rice crackers) during the Hina-matsuri Girls’ Festival celebrated in March. Children used to look forward to this and cheerfully pick the fallen mochis up.
In the old days, people made these hana-mochi by themselves, but nowadays, most people buy them at the morning market at Miyagawa-river or at the local supermarkets.
You can also buy or admire various types of them during December to March in Takayama.
In a snowy day, you may feel and understand how these hana-mochi lightened up people’s moods.
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