Busy preparing for New Year’s arrival
NIIGATA, Dec. 19 -In Agano City, Niigata Prefecture, makers of Shimekazari, a traditional Japanese New Year’s decoration, have entered the busiest time of the year. The members of the shimekazari producers’ group of a local agricultural cooperative in Niigata (JA Niigata Kagayaki, Sasakami Branch) are now busy applying the final touches on the small round ropes made from rice straws by adding rice stalks and red-and-white strings called mizuhiki in Japanese.
The group began producing shimekazari about 40 years ago. This year, its 32 members make 35,000 shimekazari in four different types for sale inside and outside the prefecture.
JA asked local farmers to grow Yamahikari rice for an early harvest in July to secure rice straws that are still green. Rice stalks for decoration are Niigata Jiro rice.
The head of the artisans, Shigeru Igarashi, 86, and his wife, Shizuko, 87, have been producing about 100 shimekazari a day since mid-November. “Please celebrate the New Year with our fresh green shimekazari,” said Shigeru.