Kumade are ornamental bamboo rakes decorated with a variety of talismans, purchased to ‘rake’ or ‘sweep in’ good fortune for the New Year. The arrival of the New Year in Japan is rife with symbolism, and the purchase of kumade is no exception. Each of the separate talismans which make up these elaborate displays has its own particular meaning, designed to bring the owner prosperity for the year ahead. The size of kumade may vary from cup-sized ornaments to displays several metres high, and buyers are encouraged to increase the size of their kumade each year in order to reap ever-greater fortunes. Kumade are sold at Tori-no-Ichi - Rooster markets - which take place throughout Japan each November.
Japan House London had a kumade on display in January 2019. The component parts of the eye-catching kumade, and the ornament’s multi-faceted meanings, are explained below.