Cucumber (kyuuri)



Cucumber (kyuuri)

***** Location: Japan, worldwide
***** Season: Summer, see below
***** Category: Plant


kigo for early summer

cucumber seedlings, kyuuri nae 胡瓜苗

cucumber blossoms, kyuuri no hana
胡瓜の花 (きゅうりのはな)
..... hana kyuuri 花胡瓜(はなきゅうり)

In Japan, some small cucumbers are sold with the flower still sticking to the one end, so we can enjoy the contrast of the fresh green and yellow. The bright yellow flowers with their five petals look different in the morning and in the evening.


humanity kigo for all summer

cucumber (to eat), kyuuri 胡瓜 (きゅうり)

pickled cucumbers, kyuurizuke 胡瓜漬 (きゅうりづけ)
kyuurimomi, kyuuri momi 胡瓜揉(きゅうりもみ)
"cucumbers pickled with vinegar"


observance kigo for late summer

kyuuri fuuji きゅうり封じ / 胡瓜封じ cucumber service
(Kyuri Fuji)

It is in rememberance of Kobo Daishi, when he visited the memorial of Shotoku Taishi, and performed this ritual to ward off illness for the people.

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It has been performed at temple Zenkoji 善光寺 in Nagano, but came out of use in the Taisho period. Later this ceremony was revived aroud Showa 48 and is now performed on a sunday in late july. Everyone who comes had to bring a cucumber. The cucumber is the personification of this person and will bear all its illness and bad fortune. After the cucumber is purified in the ceremony, the person can take it home and eat it or burry it at home in his garden or throw it in a nearby river.

The cucumber resembles a standing human being, therefore it is used in this ritual.
When it is cut, it is round, like the wheel of the Buddhist law.

Also performed at the temple Renge-ji in Kyoto and others.

Gurken als Zeremonialgegenstand zur Abwehr von Krankheiten.

scorching heat -
a sacred cucumber helps
to survive

Gabi Greve, July 27, 2012



The cucumber is believed to be native to India, and evidence indicates that it has been cultivated in Western Asia for 3,000 years. The cucumber is also listed among the products of ancient Ur and the legend of Gilgamesh describes people eating cucumbers. Some sources also state that it was produced in ancient Thrace, and it is certainly part of modern cuisine in Bulgaria and Turkey, parts of which make up that ancient state. From India, it spread to Greece (where it was called "vilwos") and Italy (where the Romans were especially fond of the crop), and later into China.

The fruit is mentioned in the Bible (Numbers 11:5) as having been freely available in Egypt, even to the enslaved Israelites: We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick. The Israelites later came to cultivate the cucumber themselves, and Isaiah 1:8 briefly mentions the method of agriculture - The Daughter of Zion is like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege. The shelter was for the person who kept the birds away, and guarded the garden from robbers.

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Worldwide use

Things found on the way

. Kappa the Water Goblin and Cucumbers 河童 .


no wa nurete asa hajimarinu hana kyuuri

the fields are wet
morning does not start without

cucumber flowers

Arima Kazuko 有馬籌子
(Tr. Gabi Greve)


ikietaru shijuukunen ya kyuuri saku   

I lived already
up to fortynine ...
cucumbers flower  

Hino Soojoo 日野草城
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

He caught the tuberculosis in 1946 and lived with this illness for a little more than 10 years.

WKD : Hino Sojo, Hino Soojoo 日野草城 (1901 - 1956)


kuuri naru shitakagebukaki hana no kazu

in the dark underbrush
there are so many
flowers of the cucumber

cucumbers grow
in the dark underbrush -
what a number of flowers

Iida Dakotsu 飯田蛇骨
(Tr. Gabi Greve)


hana kyuuri soete otoko no ryoori kana

adding a cucumber flower
and here we are ...
a man's cooking

. . . . more haiku about cucumbers in Japanese :
© www.nhk.or.jp/haiku/

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

Related words

***** Smelt, Osmerus mordax
"Cucumber Fish", kyuuri uo

. sea cucumber (namako 海鼠) .
kigo for all winter



Gabi Greve said...

LEGEND from Kyoto 南丹市 Nantan

kyuuri kaji 胡瓜加持 ritual for cucumber purification, cucumber blessing
At the Yakushi Do Hall people come to get a purified cucumber, take it home and each member of the family has to take a bite. The rest will be buried under the beams of the house to prevent people from getting ill during the year.

Gabi Greve said...

Gataro ガタロ Kappa
If people went swimming in the river during the 祇園さん(天王さん Gion Festival, the Gataro would pull them in the water, so swimming was not allowed during that time.
The Shrine crest of the Gion shrine was a cucumber cut in slices, a favorite food of the Kappa. So during that festival people were not allowed to eat cucumbers.