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The kakejiku of an auspicious painting is displayed on certain occasions, such as a new year, a ceremonial exchange of betrothal gifts (called “Yuinou”), or a celebration to commemorate a person’s long life.
Pine, Bamboo, Plum, Crane, Turtle
A pine tree is considered a symbol of longevity in Japan because its needles are always green.
The Japanese people admire the characteristics of bamboo: they grow straight and is flexible, yet is hard to break. They liken bamboo to the fortunes of a family and hope that their family fortunes will not decline.
The plum tree is the first tree to blossom, which indicates that spring has arrived. This is why the plum tree is considered a symbol of vitality in Japan.
For the reasons described above, Japanese believe that “shou-chiku-bai” (the combination of pine, bamboo and plum trees) is a lucky symbol.
The crane and the turtle were considered the vehicles of the immortals in China, so they are symbols of longevity. This thought was introduced in Japan, and now the Japanese people love the crane and the turtle as symbols of longevity, as well.
According to the Takasago Shrine in Takasago City, Hyougo Prefecture, there have been “Aioi-no-Matsu” (twin pines: a Japanese red pine and Japanese black pine that share their roots) ever since the Shinto shrine was established. A pair of trees called “Jou” (old man) and “Uba” (old woman) – a Japanese form of Darby and Joan – bearing the legend, “We kami reside in these trees to show the world the way of marital virtue,” stand within the shrine. This is why a Takasago painting is often displayed on an auspicious occasion. Takasago generally means of an old man and woman.
The sun has, since ancient times, been worshipped around the world, and many religions have developed out of sun worshipping traditions. For example, “Amaterasu Oomikami,” the top god in Japanese mythology, is the sun god. The sunrise on New Year’s Day is often chosen as a subject for a painting of New Year.