Kadomatsu, literally meaning “gate pine,” is placed in pairs in front of houses to welcome toshigami. They are placed outside Dec. 13 or later until Jan. 7.
However, decorating a Christmas tree has become increasingly popular in Japan and thus Japanese tend to put out kadomatsu Dec. 26 or later.
Kadomatsu is composed of three bamboo shoots that are cut diagonally in different lengths, pine and sometimes ume (plum) tree sprigs, which represent longevity, prosperity and steadfastness, respectively, and a base made of straw.
The first time kadomatsu appeared in writing was in a verse by an 11th-century poet, according to ?Kadomatsu-Japan.com operated by a Hyogo Prefecture-based gardening company.
Kadomatsu in the Kanto region are different from those in Kansai. In Kanto, the bamboo is placed higher in the decoration than the pine while the pine is higher than the bamboo in Kansai.
Cheap kadomatsu can be bought for a few hundred yen, but good ones can be expensive.
?Kadomatsu-Japan.com has a simple, 100-cm-high kadomatsu for \31,500 while the most expensive, which has not only bamboo and pine but also decorative flowers, is 180 cm high and costs \210,000.