For many parts of Japan, this week is the Obon season. This is the time when several generations of family members all come together in one house for a visit. Luckily for the hosts, the vast majority of these relatives are ghosts so don’t take up a lot of space.

But even though they’re ghosts it’d be rude not to lay out some food for them, and so it’s not uncommon to place some snacks or beverages on graves or family altars in the home. Among these you might find shoryo uma, little animals made of cucumber and eggplant meant symbolize animals which carry the spirits to and from the otherworld.

Traditionally these tiny animals are made by jabbing four sticks into the vegetable for legs. The result is quaint but kind of looks like something I’d slap together for my third grade art project so I could get back to playing Dragon Warrior – hardly something fit for the people who paved the way for your existence to ride in on! As such some people in Japan have begun pimping their shoryo uma to make sure their ancestors’ rides are safe, comfy, and in some cases kind of epic.

First here is a nice example of some traditional shoryo uma to give you a sense of comparison.

These modernized shoryo uma have been growing in popularity in recent years. Last year we presented the works of Kimishin, who fashioned mobile suits and vehicles from the Gundam universe as well as a Pegasus and other mythical creatures.

This year we have some new works harvested from Twitter, such as the military-themed eggplant and cucumber set.

These are apparently kits that can be purchased somewhere for 1,500 yen (US$15) according to the photo in this tweet.

Flying is always and option, but I hear customs at afterlife airports are a real pain to get through. They’ve literally got all the time in the world and don’t mind jerking you around for a while before letting you through.

Some kept with the animal theme but felt more power was needed.

“Good evening. Here is this year’s shoryo uma.”

https://twitter.com/suke48/status/496619676005187584

“Comparing to last year’s shoryo uma, it had more emphasis on mobility and attack power. This year I wanted to add more defensive power so I included some extra armor. I also made the legs more muscular to compensate for the travel endurance last year’s lacked.”

https://twitter.com/suke48/status/496655439338033152

Others went for a more realistic look with their cucumber horses.

And then we have those who have taken the tradition to bizarre new realms.

https://twitter.com/thidalaxmi/status/496585215469309953

Finally, it just wouldn’t be an Obon season without some homoerotic themed tributes to shoryo uma.

That’s it for this year barring any amazing last-minute entries. Join us again this time in 2015 to see what people do with cucumbers and eggplants next!

Source: Twitter, Hamusoku (Japanese)