Sugitama (Fir Ball) (杉玉)
Sugitama is a craft made from collection of fir leaves (tips) and shaped into a ball. It is also called Sakabayashi (sake forest). It functions as a notice that new sake is finished when a green sugitama is hung from the eaves of a sake brewery.
It means 'we've started to press the sake.'
The sugitama that is newly hung is fresh and green, but eventually withers to brown. This change of color tells people the ripening of the newly made Japanese sake.
It is interpreted as the sign of the liquor shop nowadays, but originally was an offering for the god of sake.
This originated from the fir growing on Mt. Miwa of the Shushin Oomiwa-jinja Shrine (Great God of Sake Shrine). The poem supposedly made by Ikkyu stated, 'Paradise is not far but within one's heart and can be discovered while drinking sake,' and sang of sugitama.
There is a theory that fir leaves are hung since these leaves prevent the sake from decaying.
How It Is Made
A ball of wires is made as the core (half the size of finished work) to insert fir leaves. It is shaped before completing.