Saturday, December 31, 2011

Maui Kadomatsu and Mochi for New Year's

Kadomatsu, a traditional Japanese New Year's arrangement,
spotted at Times supermarket. 

I'm not Japanese but the Japanese in Hawaii take New Year's seriously. They are dignified about it, unlike some cultures which get drunk, wasted and hung over - although heck, maybe there are plenty of Japanese who do that too! It's customary to clean house for New Year's and place the kadomatsu at the entrance of one's home or business to welcome the new year.  The kadomatsu is an arrangement of bamboo, cut at an angle, and pine sprigs, which symbolize strength, long life, flexibility, and growth.  I like to think of this decoration as the equivalent of the more common holiday wreath.  

Kadomatsu is not usually available in local supermarkets, although Times is a supermarket with more of a local Maui base, as compared to say, Safeway which is more "white bread" and part of a large mainland supermarket chain. No offense intended - I shop at various places.  Usually kadomatsu can be obtained from one's local hongwanji or Japanese temple. 

The Japanese also traditionally pound mochi as part of the New Year's celebration. Mochi is a sticky sweet rice that is pounded until it becomes soft and malleable. Often, a sweet filling is placed inside. Mochi is widely available all over Hawaii, not just for New Year's. 

To the left is mochi, sweet gummy rice balls stuffed with
sweet azuki (red bean) paste.

Next year, if there's time and I'm not going crazy, the Japanese Cultural Society arranges a mochi-making and kadomatsu-making evening, open to the public.  Add that to the list for next year. 

I found this video on kadomatsu making which also looked pretty interesting.


  1. I'm Japanese but I didn't any Kadomatsu this year, I usually do. It's been a rough & busy year... Thanks for stopping by my corner today, I love your blog, lots of useful info and with a ton of substance. I'm looking forward to looking at back posts (once I can breathe easy at work again...). Happy new year!

  2. yes, I love your blog too - although was feeling like I had read about 8 blogs today! phew! fyi.. for future readers... her blog is


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