The year will approach its end in less than a month. This is the perfect time for the Japanese to start osouji, the practice of deep cleaning in honor of the Shinto God of the New Year Toshigami.

Traditional brooms made from kochia or the bark of a helm palm for bristles were commonly used in Japanese homes. They complement soft rush plant tatami flooring, as regular use brought out the natural shine on the mat’s surface. And every broom, of course, is accompanied by a dustpan. Harimi are traditional Japanese dustpans created from washi paper stretched across a framework made of bamboo strips. They’re sealed with kakishibu dye, a water-resistant and bug-repellant dye created from persimmon tannin. Unlike plastic or metal, harimi does not cause static electricity, so accumulated dust is disposed ofneatly. For the Japanese, however, the highlight of “sweeping” has a more symbolic meaning. Brooms act as talismans to ward off evil spirits, illness, and danger. On December 13, many temples and shrines across Japan hold a cleaning ceremony to remove physical and mental impurities that have piled up over the year.

There may be unsuspecting traces from the past as we all explore new lifestyles nowadays. Technology evolves and changes all the time, but tradition never does. It’s deeply rooted in our culture, and no amount of cleaning will be able to “sweep” it away.