01 05 2023

Kyoto, Japan
Hayato & Mika Nishiyama
from Mitate

One of the most transcendent Japanese New Year’s decorations is the rice cake flowers known as mochi-bana. In Hida Takayama, freshly pounded rice cakes are decorated like a flowers on branches growing from a stump. In Nagano, Kyoto, among other regions, rice cakes are placed on weeping willow branches to represent a bountiful harvest of drooping ears of rice for ine-no-hana and awabohiebo decorations.


In eastern Japan, mayudama, which are made in the shape of silkworm cocoons and attached to trees, are decorated along with tools and other items closely related to sericulture. Various prayers — from wishing the safety of silkworms, a bountiful harvest, or anticipation for flowers — take shape in mochi-bana, which are unique to each region and each livelihood.


When creating the mochi-bana on the facade of the Shihara stores, I imagined how a rice farmer would have created them. There is a theory that the shime-nawa ropes represent clouds and the hanging rice straw represents rain. Farmers would naturally choose straw as the material, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable for them attach rice cakes to it, considering that rice is the raw material of mochi. It is said that as much as 88 steps of labor are required to grow rice, so it is likely that they would put their wishes in numbers as well, for example, using 88 pieces of straws.

Most Japanese New Year’s decorations are a form of prayer. I believe that design should not be given the first priority. We made the mochi-bana on the shime-nawa ropes by twisting rice straws with only the core left intact to the floating clouds and making it rain mochi.


Japan has always been an agrarian society, and the rain that moistened the earth would have been a blessing from the gods themselves.