Kadomatsu makers work to keep New Year tradition alive

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Dec 26 2013 03:01:00 PM HST

Just in time for the new year, those bamboo and pine displays are popping up all over the place. The making of the Kadomatsu is a work of love, with a tradition so ingrained in Hawaii's culture that some see it as a lifestyle.

HONOLULU -

Along the muddy, mosquito-ridden ridge off Tantalus Drive, tradition starts here.

Click here to watch Lara Yamada's report.

Warren Yasuda is leading the team in charge with chopping down 200 bamboo poles -- the prime feature in the popular New Year's tradition called Kadomatsu.

"We don't want the plant to fill up with water.  That way we'd get mosquitoes," said Yasuda.  "We pick it the day before we need it to be really fresh.  We're gonna take it down to Ward Centers and get it all set up for tomorrow morning."

"We do a lot of research to make sure it's exactly how it's supposed to be," said Rick Hoo of the Kuhio Lions Club.

There is pride and respect in those words from Hoo, who is the chief Kadomatsu maker.  It's why his work is in high demand.

"The proper cut should have a small mouth and always have a joint in between," said Hoo.

Kadomatsu, literally meaning "gate pine," and typically placed next to a gate or door.

Larger displays are for his corporate clients.  Medium ones are off to a local dentist office.

They try to think of everything and waste nothing.  Scraps will go to the University of Hawaii for an art show in March.

Each detail, a reflection of their knowledge.  Some 50 members from the Kuhio Lions Club are volunteering this year.  They get other people involved, even kids, learning and teaching a tradition Hoo is determined to help keep alive.

"We enjoy it.  It's part of our community.  It's part of our lifestyle and we want to perpetuate it," said Hoo.

The Kuhio Lions Club will hold its free Kadomatsu demonstration starting at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 27 at the Ward Warehouse Amphitheatre.

A Kadomatsu is traditionally placed at your door no earlier than 10 days before the New Year.  Then, burned on the 15th of January, as they say, to release the gods within.

PHOTOS: Kadomatsu demonstration

Click here for more photos on the Kadomatsu demonstration.

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