What are cucumbers and aubergines for Obon?

What are cucumbers and aubergines for Obon?
What are cucumbers and aubergines for Obon?

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Obon series

What are cucumbers and aubergines for Obon?

Cucumbers and aubergines, which are part of the Obon decorations, are called 'shoryouma' (spirit horses), with the cucumbers resembling horses and the aubergines resembling cows. What are the meanings of these two? The meaning of the 'spirit horse' is explained below.


What does 'spirit horse' mean?

The 'spirit horse' or 'ox horse' is a vehicle used by ancestors to travel between the Pure Land and their homes in this world. A cucumber or aubergine with four legs is a typical spirit horse often seen during the Obon period. The cucumber and aubergine have the following wishes attached to them


Cucumber - 'welcoming horse'.

'May our ancestors return quickly on a fast horse'.

Aubergine: "Sending oxen".

'May your ancestors ride on the slow steer and return slowly with their souvenirs.'


Cucumbers are sometimes called 'spirit horses' and eggplants 'spirit cows', but nowadays the two are often collectively referred to as 'spirit horses'. In some regions, cucumber and aubergine also have opposite meanings.


Why cucumbers and aubergines are chosen

It is not clear when they first became a standard item, but both are familiar vegetables that are harvested throughout the country, and the fact that they are in season and harvested in large quantities during the Obon period is thought to be the reason why people chose them.

In some regions, instead of cucumber or aubergine, vegetables harvested in the area where they live are used.


Above. There are many theories, but this is how it goes. Have a good Obon!