photo courtesy Kitte Marunouchi

The KITTE department store just outside Tokyo Station is known for their annual effort to stage a beautifully designed Christmas tree. But this year they’ve outdone themselves, collaborating with artisans from Iida City in Nagano to craft a Christmas tree made from 1000 mizuhiki cord balls, each embedded with LED lights and suspended in midair.

screenshots from “making of” video below

Mizuhiki is an ancient craft that’s been passed down from generation to generation. The beautiful ornamental cords are hand-twisted and molded into decorative forms that adorn gifts, or are used to express condolences. In essence, they connect things – both figuratively and literally – and symbolize unity but also the ties binding giver to receiver.

At KITTE this year, 1000 mizuhiki cord balls, each handmade by artisans specializing in the craft, were used to create the shape of a Christmas tree 16 m (52 ft) high. The balls are strung together and suspended from the ceiling with LED lights that are controlled both by computers, but also by visitors who can activate the lights by stepping on circles underneath the tree.

It’s on display through December 25, 2020. Organizers say they hope the tree can help people feel connected in a year defined by separation and distancing.