Shobu-yu : The Sweet Flag Bath for “Tango no Sekku” Festival on May 5

A few days ago, I posted an article about Kashiwa Mochi. “Kashiwa Mochi (柏餅)” is a traditional Japanese sweet for “Tango no Sekku (端午の節句)”, or the Boys’ Festival held on May 5 in Japan. Tango no Sekku is also referred to as Children’s day outside of Japan.

Shobu-yu (菖蒲湯) : Japanese Sweet Flag Bath

The day, May 5 is a Japanese national holiday to celebrate and wish boys’ healthy growth and happiness, when we Japanese have a traditional custom. The tradition is to take Shobu-yu, or having a sweet flag bath.

The Origin of Shobu-yu

Shobu-yu, or the traditional Japanese sweet flag bath has a long history. It is said that Shobu-yu has its origin in China. In the Edo period (1603 – 1868), the common people came to take this sweet flag bath.

Actually, the Japanese word meaning sweet flag, “Shobu (菖蒲)” has another Chinese character pronounced in the same way. That is “Shobu (尚武)” and the Japanese term, Shobu (尚武) means to consider “Budo (武道)”, or Japanese martial arts and the military as important things.

Since “Shobu (菖蒲)” has the same reading as “Shobu (尚武)”, the 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, sweet flag, or Shobu has been believed to be a medicinal herb for driving away evil spirits since the old days in Japan.

From the above, the traditional custom, taking a Shobuyu on Tango no Sekku has been handed down to this day in Japan.

How to Make Shobu-yu

The making method of Shobu-yu depends on each household, but in many cases, just add sweet flag leaves to a bathtub of hot water.

The Health Benefits of Shobu-yu

The plant, Shobu contains various essential oil components, such as Asarone and eugenol, so you can expect the effect of relieving neuralgia and backache from Shobuyu. What is more, the sweet flag bath has an unique aroma that helps you relax.

(Reference page of this article : Wikipedia 菖蒲湯 )


I'm Japanese living in Niigata Prefecture,Japan.I want to introduce things about Japan,especially unique Japanese products,sightseeing places,my daily life and Japanese culture.

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