WAIMEA — The Waimea Shingon Mission held its kyuri kaji, or cucumber blessing, Sunday at the temple located in the depths of Waimea Valley at the foot of the towering cliffs that house Waimea Heights.
Traditionally and popularly done on the day of the ox during the summer in Japan, kyuri kaji uses cucumbers in the prayers to overcome the midsummer hot summer and pray for good health by containing the plague and disaster in cucumbers.
According to the jpsmart-club.com website, the midsummer day of the ox (July 21 this year) is also a day when people eat eels, called “unagi” in Japan, to lose weight in the summer.
Another tale from the website about eating eels midsummer — eels are more common during the fall and winter — says that Hiraga Gennai, known for the restoration of erekiteru, a hand-operated electric generator, said he received a consultation from an eel house that sales would drop in the summer. He proposed a notice indicating “Today is the day of the ox” and suggested eating eels.
If unagi is not suitable for the palate, other suggested foods to enjoy on day of the ox include udon noodles, salted plum or umeboshi. And of course, cucumber.
The kyuri kaji is pau for this year while the Waimea Shingon Mission is following the earlier Kaua‘i Buddhist Council decision of no bon dancing due to the pandemic health and safety concerns.
However, the temple will host its hatsubon, or celebrating the passing of individuals during the past year, service on July 23 starting at 6 p.m. at its Waimea Valley temple.
The following day, on July 24, the mission will be hosting it obon family service starting at 6 p.m.
The church will also host a food fundraiser on July 24 with pre-sale pick up starting at 3:45 p.m. Items may be ordered by calling the mission at 808-338-1854, and include six flying saucers for $20, a chicken hekka plate with no rice for $8, and a stew and rice plate for a $7.
These items, and additional over-the-counter food items, go on sale to the public from 4:30 to 6 p.m., or until sold out. There is a taiko performance scheduled by Taiko Kaua‘i that starts at approximately 5 p.m.
• Info: 808-338-1854
Source: The Garden Island