Shobu-yu – The origin and health benefit of the Japanese sweet flag bath
A few days ago, I posted an article about Kashiwa Mochi, which is a traditional Japanese sweet that is prepared for the Boys’ Festival held on May 5 in Japan.
The Boys’ Festival is also called Children’s day or Tango no Sekku (端午の節句).
The day, May 5, is a Japanese national holiday to celebrate and wish boys’ healthy growth and happiness, and we Japanese have a traditional custom on this day.
Shobu-yu (菖蒲湯) : Japanese Sweet Flag Bath
The tradition is to take Shobu-yu, in other words, having a sweet flag bath.
The origin of Shobu-yu : Japanese Sweet Flag Bath
Shobu-yu, or the Japanese sweet flag bath, has a long history and its origin in China.
But it is said that it is the Edo period (1603 – 1868) when the average citizen came to take this sweet flag bath.
In addition to ‘Shobu (菖蒲)’, there is another Chinese character in Japanese that represents ‘Shobu’, that is, ‘尚武’.The Japanese word means to regard Budo (武道 : Japanese martial arts) and militaries as important things.
As the ‘Shobu (菖蒲 : sweet flag)’ plant has the same reading as the word ‘尚武’, people at that time came to use the plant for bathing on May 5 in the hope of what the word ‘尚武’ means.
In fact, the Shobu plant has been thought to be a medicinal herb for driving away evil spirits since the old days in Japan.
This is why the traditional custom, taking the Shobu bath on Children’s day, has been handed down to this day in Japan.
How to make (prepare) Shobu-yu : Japanese Sweet Flag Bath
The way to make (prepare) Shobu-yu depends on each household.But in many cases as the above image shows, we put the Shobu plant as is in a bathtub of hot water.
The health benefits of Shobu-yu : Japanese Sweet Flag Bath
As health benefits, the plant contains many essential oil ingredients, such as Asarone and eugenol, and you can expect the effect to relieve neurosis and backache from them.
In addition, the sweet flag has an unique aroma that helps you to relax.
(Reference page of this article : Wikipedia, ‘菖蒲湯’)