Eggplant, aubergine. なす、茄子。 (Solanum melongena)
The Japanese eggplant is short and slender and different in variety from the ones you find in Europe or the U.S. There are no seeds that have to be removed. The taste is sweet rather than bitter and it becomes creamy after cooking. Eggplants came to Japan via China in the 8th century.
Nasu is used as nimono, as tempura or shallow-fried in preparations with miso (nasu dengaku). Nasu are also popular as tsukemono and in that case make an excellent accompaniment to sake. Nasu are available the whole year in Japan, but taste best in autumn.
[Japanese aubergines. Photo Ad Blankestijn]