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Noshi and Awabi

abalone (awabi)

In Japanese culture, the tradition of gift-giving is accompanied by a unique form of decoration known as "noshi." Noshi originates from an abbreviation of "noshi-awabi," which refers to a stretched, dried abalone. This was a prized symbol of longevity and prosperity, believed to ward off evil spirits. Traditionally, a strip of dried abalone was wrapped in red and white paper in a special fold and attached to gifts. However, in modern practice, a strip of yellow paper often substitutes for the actual abalone. Noshi is affixed to the upper right corner of a gift to signify congratulations and is not used for condolence gifts. Another element, "mizuhiki," involves paper strings tied around a gift with a decorative knot. The colors and tying methods of mizuhiki vary depending on the occasion, with specific colors like red and white for celebrations, and black and white for somber events. The art of noshi and mizuhiki reflects the deep respect and intention behind the act of giving in Japan.


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