When visiting a Japanese garden or park in winter, one comes across some tree “decorations” which seem quite unusual to the foreign eye: most pine trees have a small straw mat wrapped somewhere around the trunk, and some trees are under some sort of conical “rope skeleton” fixed to a central pole.It’s not news that the Japanese have a very active approach towards tree maintenance. And as it turns out, these adornments actually serve a function. The former, Komo-maki in Japanese, are a kind of insect trap: in autumn, harmful bugs crawl from the tree top into the straw mat, which is tied loosely on the upper part and tightly on the lower. They overwinter under the mat, which gets detached and burned in spring. Pest problem solved!
The rope cones, called Yukizuri, on the other hand, are a protection against heavy snow. It is clear that pine trees with almost horizontal branches can easily be damaged by heavy snow. The ropes protect the branches from falling snow. Yet yukizuri are also attached to trees in regions such as Tokyo, where heavy snow cover does not occur, making it clear that they are more considered as a seasonal decoration.