Summer Festival for the Ancestral Spirits O-Bon

The Horse and the Ox at O-bon


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What would we do with a horse made out of a cucumber or an ox made out of an eggplant? These figures are made for O-bon, a traditional event in Japan for honoring the spirits of the ancestors, who come down from the heavens to visit our home once a year.

In my area of Japan, O-bon is celebrated from around August 13th to 16th. Fashioning figures like this, called a "shoryo uma" (spirit steed), is a custom passed down in our family. Why a horse and an ox? The horse is a symbol of wanting the ancestors' spirits to come back to the home quickly. The ox, which moves much slower, is a symbol of our reluctance to part with the spirits, encouraging them to go back to heaven slowly. For the horse, we use a cucumber. You can see it at the back of the photo. For the ox, we use an eggplant. To complete the arrangement, I added a tomato, a green pepper, and green beans that we harvested in our family garden. ( ´∀`)

At our house at O-bon, my role is to make the spiritual horse and ox, ♪ so I did my best, thinking of our ancestors as I worked. It was a very hot summer, though, so the cucumber dried up. (T_T) Dear horse and ox, thank you so much for carrying our ancestors back and forth. See you next year!

GAGA         Author:GAGA

I am a first year university student living in Miyagi and am learning sign language at my university as an extracurricular activity.
My hobbies are cooking and music. (*´-`)"

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