Mochibana is a decoration made of small-cut rice cake or dango (sweet rice dumpling) on a branch of Japanese sumac, hackberry, or willow tree for New Year's Holidays or small New Year's festival around January 15. It is said that the decoration has a meaning for Yoshuku Geino (Preliminary Celebration) that prays for the productiveness of grain of the year. In many regions, people decorate or eat it at an event of Sagicho (ritual bonfire of New Year's decorations).
Variations of Mochibana
In Nagano Prefecture, people make a rice ear shaped Mochibana using a branch of shidareyanagi (weeping willow spray) and express a good harvest. This is called inenohana (the flower of a rice plant). The same holds for Awabo Hiebo (ornaments to celebrate new year festival which consists of a pair of a peeled spray and an unpeeled spray).
Mochibana is called Hanamochi in Gifu Prefecture (mainly, present-day Takayama City and Hida City) and has been used for a decoration on New Year's Holidays.
Another decoration popular in across the eastern Japan is Mayudama (a branch decorated with cocoon-shaped rice cakes and other festive decorations for the New Year). It is a decoration with rice flour dumpling shaped like a silkworm's cocoon on a tree branch. In some regions, people decorate it with tools deeply related to sericulture. It is decorated to pray for the safety of silkworms and this is also a kind of Mochibana. People pick dumplings away, bake them, and eat at around the end of small New Year's festival.