Minazuki June sweets



"Month without water" (minazuki)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Late Summer
***** Category: Humanity


minazuki 水無月 (みなずき) sweets for June

The Chinese characters used to write the name of this month signify "Month WITHOUT water", but in fact it is quite the opposite. It is a month during the rainy season and used to be called "mizu no tsuki", month with water, which has later been contracted to be pronounced mina tsuki ... minazuki.

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These sweets were the poor man's equivalent of a royal treat in June, when the emperor in Kyoto was served beans on shaved ice that was taken into a storeroom in the winter time. Remember, this refers to life without refrigerators in the Edo period.
The ice stores (himuro 氷室) for the emperor's court were in the north of Kyoto, protected by the shrine Himuro Jinja 氷室神社 in Kitayama.
. . . CLICK here for Photos of the Shrine !
Today you can only see a pit in the forest, where the ice was collected from the nearby lake and then covered with straw to last till summer.

The white paste referst to the snow.
The red beans (azuki) are auspicious to ward off evil.
The triangular form reminds us of ice and cools the mind.

June is the month in the middle of the year and people went to the Shinto shrines to perform purification rites and pray for good health in the next half.

WKD : Summer Purification Ceremony (nagoshi)

One famous ceremony is at the shrine Kita no Tenmangu 北の天満宮. After performing the rites of walking through the ring of straw (chi no wa, chinowa 茅の輪) the people of Kyoto would walk down the road and have some sweets at the local shop.

The white base of the sweets is also called UIROO 外郎(ういろう).
One store makes these sweets with rice flour, so they are quite white to show the SNOW.
笹屋昌園 夏の水無月(みなづき)

Another store makes them with kuzu arrowroot starch, so they are more transparent to show the ICE.

The shops make this sweet only for a short time, some only in the month of June, and it is last eaten on June 30 to mark the end of the first half of the year and the new start, expecially the start of summer. After eating MINAZUKI, the people of Kyoto know that summer has really begun.

goken uiroo 五建ういろう(ごけんういろう)

Mina suki みな好き we all like it!
a play on words with the name.

chinowagayu, chinowa-gayu 茅の輪粥 rice porridge
chi no wa kayu, served on this last day of the sixth month.

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


kigo for late summer
category season

minazuki 水無月 みなづき the 6. month in the lunar calendar
kazemachizuki 風待月(かぜまちづき) "month waiting for the wind"
tokonatsuzuki 常夏月(とこなつづき) "month of perpetual summer"
aominazuki 青水無月(あおみなづき) "month all green"

category observance
minazuki harae 水無月祓(みなづきはらえ)
WKD : Summer Purification Ceremony (nagoshi)  

minazuki no asagao suzushi asa no tsuki

month of june
and the morning glories look so cool -
moon in the morning

Chora 樗良 (1729 - 1780)

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Teapot for the month of minazuki

More haiku

Related words

***** WAGASHI ... Sweets SAIJIKI



anonymous fb said...

eating minazuki
in the heat of the night -

Olga Neagu

anonymous aha said...

Joyful verse it puts a lightness in my heart.

Anonymous said...

Very nice Gabi

Anonymous said...

Gabi san,
In your page, I found Minazuki tea pot that is very charming ceramic.

anonymous said...

Gabi, many thanks for all your links to the World Kigo Database: I enjoyed your explanations of 'minazuki'!
Late June/early July was certainly 'month without water' here in UK, as we have had several days of hot sunshine with temperatures in the 70s and 80s degs Fahrenheit!