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In Japan, the pine tree, or matsu, shares the same meaning as the Chinese and Korean pine trees. That is longevity, virtue and youth. They are also associated with masculinity and power.
The word “matsu” means “waiting for the soul of a god to descend from Heaven” in Japanese. In the ancient Shinto beliefs, gods were said to have ascended to Heaven on a pine tree, where they now reside on a beautiful volcanic mountain in giant or old trees.
Pine trees are associated with the New Year in Japan. So much so that many Japanese hang a bundle of pine twigs and bamboo trunks known as a Kado matsu (Gate pine) on their doors to receive a blessing from the gods.
Pines are also used to mark the boundaries of the sacred ground of temples and shrines. The nib is a 18kt gold nib.
Prior to the Edo period (1600-1867), pine trees and branches were a popular choice of decoration for samurai on their armor and katana due to all the associations with masculinity.