Myōga or myōga ginger (Zingiber miōga, Zingiberaceae) is an herbaceous, deciduous perennial native to Japan and the southern part of Korea. It is grown for its edible flower buds and shoots. The flower buds are finely shredded and used as a garnish for miso soup, sunomono and other dishes such as roasted eggplant. While some constituents of myōga are cytotoxic, others have shown promise for potentially anti-carcinogenic properties.Myōga is also now grown in Australia and New Zealand.
Myōga written in different kanji characters (simplified old Chinese characters are still used by Japanese combined with Japanese characters, hiragana and katakana) means “divine protector”. For this reason, it was a popular crest among the warrior class. During the Ashikaga era (1336 — 1573), the worship of Mandarashin was prevalent and priests of this sect decorated their robes with ginger patterns. The God Mandarashin* is sometimes shown with two attendants who are holding bamboo and ginger.
It can be then argued that the teachings of Buddhism, popular amongst the samurai, would be the source of this design, seen in many instances on the more simple designs of iron sukashi tsuba of the Muromachi to Edō periods.
Ko Shōami Tsuba, testu ji, tekkotsu in both mimi and ji. Momoyama Jidai. 古正阿弥透鍔, 鉄骨, 安土桃山時代.
H: 64mm x W: 64mm. Thickness: 4.5mm at centre. 5.7mm at mimi.
Ko Shōami tsuba with Myōga and Kasa. The two geese have their wings folded right back forming the shape known as Inome (Boar’s eye) which is a very nice addition to the design. Myōga are commonly seen on Winter motifs and the Kasa are also seen often along with other symbols of the approaching cold months. The mimi is heavy in fine tekkotsu and it is also evident in the ji.
There is an old Japanese saying that goes “eating too much myōga makes you forgetful”. Some believe that because the distinct flavour associated with myōga is mature or adult, it may be the young who tended to want to forget it.
Shōami Tsuba, testu ji, tsuchime, tekkotsu. Edō Shōki Jidai. 正阿弥透鐔, 槌目, 鉄骨, 江戸初期時代.
H: 78mm x W: 79mm. Thickness: 5.5mm at centre. 4mm at mimi.
Shōami tsuba with the very common Namako 海鼠 or sea cucumber design. It is finished with myōga that frame and create the hitsu ana on both sides of the seppa dai. The design may be a play on the idea that the myōga is a tasty addition to namako when served as a meal.
Note: The mention of the God Mandarashin is isolated so far to the link AsianArtByKyoko. I am looking for more information on this. If you happen by it, please make a reply ot this post.