Kajoogui Ritual


Kajo-gui Food Ritual (kajoogui)

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



kajoogui 嘉定喰 (がじょうぐい) Eating on the Kajo-Day
..... katsu-u かつう 「嘉通」が「勝つ」
..... katsu-u no iwai かつうの祝(かつうのいわい)

kajoosen 嘉定銭(かじょうせん)16 coins for Kajo
to bus as much cakes as you could get for that amount of money.

kajoo choodai 嘉定頂戴(かじょうちょうだい)
lords giving kajo-cakes to their vassals

kajoo nui 嘉定縫(かじょうぬい)sowing on kajo-day
sodedome 袖止(そでどめ) "shortening the sleeves"

kajoogashi 嘉定菓子(かじょうがし)Kajo-cakes

The emperor Ninmei にんみょうてんのう【仁明天皇】 (833 - 850) once had an inspirational dream on the 16th day of the sixth month, when the Gods told him to offer 16 sweets to prevent him from getting ill in summer. The period name of this dream was kajoo 嘉祥, which was then used for the offerings.

The emperor Gosaga ごさがてんのう【後嵯峨天皇】 (1242 - 1246) was initiated as Emperor on the 16th day of the 6th month and had food purchased for 16 coins of the Kajo-period.

. Go Saga Tenno 後嵯峨天皇 (1220 - 1272) .

This more popular food ritual started in the Muromachi period.
On the 16th day of the 6th month, people at the court (and later the common folk) would eat 16 different pieces of small rice cakes (mochi) and sweets to ward off infectious diseases (ekibyoo 疫病). These cakes were first put on the God's shelf as an offering and later eaten.

In the Edo period, this evolved so that each regional lord gave sweets to his retainers. Poor people bought sweets for 16 mon coins and all had to eat them without laughing while eating.
During the Edo period, sugar was introduced via Nagasaki and more sweets could be produced.
In the great hall of Edo castle, with 500 tamatmi-mat size, more than 20000 pieces of cake would be placed and the Shogun gave them to his retainers.

This is also a play of words with katsu 「嘉通」and 「勝つ」, to win.
kashoo no hi 嘉祥の日(かしょうのひ)Kasho-Day

sodetome cake

In the Edo period, it was custom on this day to sew the sleeves of young girls of the age of 16 to a shorter lenght (sodetome そでとめ【袖止め/袖留め】 ). This showed they were now ready to do the work of a woman.


During the Meiji-Restauration, the practise of giving Kajo-cakes to retainers was abolished. But in 1979, it was kind of revived by the sweet makers industry.

Nowadays, the 16th of the 6th month is also the day of Japanese sweets.


Things found on the way

Sweets from the Edo period and Daruma san



Kobayashi Issa and his children
source : David Lanoue, About Issa

1763, Issa is one year old

1816, Age 54
Fourth Month, 14th day, a son, Sentaro, is born.
Fifth Month, 11th day, he dies.

1818, Age 56
Fifth Month, 4th day, a daughter, Sato, is born.
1819, Age 57
Sixth Month, 21st day, Sato dies of smallpox.

1820, Age 58
Tenth Month, 5th day, his second son, Ishitaro, is born.
1821, Age 59
First Month, 11th day, Ishitaroo suffocates while bundled on his mother's back.

1822, Age 60
Third Month, 10th day, his third son, Konzaburo, is born.

1823, Age 61
Fifth Month, 12th day, his wife, Kiku, dies.

1827, Age 65
Eleventh Month, 19th day, he dies of a stroke

. . . . .

ko no bun o haha itadaku ya kajoo gui

the portion of the child
is eaten by the mother . . .
eating on Kajo-Day

This would mean the mother ate cakes for 32 mon worth of money.
Maybe the baby was still too small to eat the cakes and mother tried to "eat good fortune" for both of them.

more kajoo-haiku, all written in 1825 文政八年句帖)

o-rei suru tamoto ni naru ya kajoosen

futarimae shite yarini keri kajoozake


Related words

Kigo for Summer




Gillena Cox said...

sixteen sweets
how could the Gods
not smile

much love

Gabi Greve said...

Thanks for taking a bite, Gillena !

anonymous said...

Glad you explained this, Gabi, else I was tempted to take it
a different way, somewhat gruesomely! That said, yes, isn't
that what mothers have always done?

Anonymous said...

The Kajo's ceremony also had another meaning in the Sengoku period.

After Nobunaga Oda's victory over the Soka Gakkai's religious rebellion, known as "Ikkoku Ikki", the Kajo was celebrated to honor the shogun's luck in battle, by calling all the daimyô in order of hierarchy (first, the Go-Sanke, or "Three Honorable Clans", Owari-no-Kami, Kii-no-Kami and Mito-no-Kami; then the rest of the shinpan daimyô - clans that the fudai daimyô and at last the tozama daimyo) to receive the Kajo's sweets.