Just what is the purpose of this thing that looks like a snowman that you often find in supermarkets and stores around the end of the year?
The custom of putting up kagami mochi seems to have already existed during the Heian period (From approx. 1185 to 1192). The two round mochi piled on top of each other are a symbol of the new year smoothly following up the old one. According to formal customs, the following decorations listed below should to be added to the mochi.
Generally speaking, most people will put the kagami mochi near entrances where guests as well as Gods enter, or in the living room or other places where home shrines are usually placed.
However, depending on what is being prayed for, it will be placed in a different location.
Besides being the real thing being put on display, the kagami mochi is also often depicted on New year greeting cards or on end of the year gifts (such as towels) or packaging as a symbol of good luck. If you are in Japan near the end of the year, it might be a nice idea to pick up a kagami mochi illustrated souvenir as a way to enter the new year with the best of luck.
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