Eggplant horses

20 07 2008

Ahh, the sights and sounds of a Japanese summer. First, purple flowers blossom on shrubs in almost every suburban street, then huge, velvety-winged black butterflies appear, and plovers fly in. Shaved ice and watermelon are sold in corner stores, frogs and cicadas creak through the night, and fireflies buzz magically above streams in local parks. And more mysteriously, these little creatures appear too, across the country.

This is a 茄子の馬 – or “eggplant horse”.  At the end of Summer, they can be seen rotting away quietly on footpaths and outside homes, made of a plump eggplant proped up on four chopsticks. Its a charming custom I think – children make the horses for the “Spirit Ferstival” in August, O-bon, when dead ancestors return to earth,a kind of happier, unscary Haloween. The benelvolent spirits ride down on these horses from the heavens.

Its a bit early, but I saw my first one today.

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