August 13th is the beginning of the Obon season, a three day period when many Japanese people gather at their family home. Ancestors' spirits are believed to travel from the family grave to their homes, and then return when Obon is over.

Since spirits need a "ride" to make the trip, family members carve steeds out of vegetables, as you can see in the image below. Traditionally, the first one is a cucumber symbolizing a horse to bring the ancestors' spirits home quickly (because family members are eager to "meet" them) and the second one is an eggplant symbolizing a cow so that ancestors can take a comfortable and leisurely trip back to the family grave, enjoying the scenery along the way.

Of course, transportation technology has improved somewhat since the days when people relied exclusively on animals to get around.

The Honda Motor Company, known for their cars and motorcycles, decided to create their own spirit steeds, putting their unique twist on the tradition...

Here's what they came up with!

To welcome the spirits and bring them speedily home, they made a speedy Honda Civic out of cucumbers.

To send the spirits back to the family grave, they used eggplants to carve out their iconic "Super Cub" moped, famous for popularizing motorcycling in the US as a leisure activity.

Leave it to Honda to make such realistic creations out of mere vegetables!

Their post elicited a wide range of comments, such as:

  • "Wow! How cool!"
  • "This will make my ancestors feel safe to come back (to our home)"
  • "Honda is serious! My grandpa used to love vehicles, so I think I'll try making one like this to make him happy."
  • "The fact that it's an eggplant even though it's a turnip* is interesting."

* A play on words. The "Cub" in "Super Cub" is pronounced kabu in Japanese, which is homophonous with カブ (蕪 in kanji, but usually written in katakana, just like the motorcycle), meaning turnip.

If all families had spirit steeds like these, you can just imagine how comfortable the spirits would be...

By - grape Japan editorial staff.