The gourd is a plant that has been utilized by mankind throughout the world, and in Japan references to it date back to ancient mythology.
The shape of the gourd, that expands toward the base, is considered lucky in Japan; in addition, the word for "three gourds" resembles that for "good luck," while that for "six gourds" is the same as that for "no sickness," resulting in them being considered symbols of luck.
The way the vine flourishes, bearing clusters of fruit, symbolizes prosperity.
It represents the birth of numerous descendants, meaning that the family line will never break, and this is considered auspicious.
These beliefs allow us a glimpse of our ancestors'views on the richness of life.
Gourds also played a practical role for storing water, medicine or sake, making them invaluable in daily life.
The great 16th century general Toyotomi Hideyoshi liked the lucky image of the gourd so much that he used the symbol of "one thousand gourds" as his battle standard.
Today, the city where Hideyoshi based his government, Osaka, still uses the symbol of his battle standard as its emblem.