Why do we eat Minazuki on June 30th in Kyoto?

Yoshie Doi

In Kyoto, we will eat the Japanese sweet “Minazuki” that originated in Kyoto on June 30th. Minazuki is a term that refers to June in the old history, and is currently around July-August. It seems that the word “Minazuki” was used because the water was dry due to the summer sunshine and there was no water.

 This Japanese sweet called Minazuki is eaten on June in half of the year, and the season is from spring to summer, so some physical preparation is required. We will have Japanese sweets.

 During the Heian period, the people at Imperial court used to eat the ice that they had stored during the winter in the ice house (Himuro) to get through a hot summer by the purification.  There was a legend that it could survive the hot summer. Since the common people cannot eat ice, they began to eat Minazuki, which resembles ice.

In the first place, there is the place called Himuro in the north of Kyoto their ice was stocked during the winter in ice house in Himuro, that was a place to preserve the natural formation ice which was presented to the emperor and the palace. Although the common people cannot eat ice, they eat Minazuki in the shape of ice, the custom of eating Minazuki, which resembles ice, to prepare for the hot summer has taken root in Kyoto.

The triangular shape of Minazuki represents a piece of ice. The red beans on it have the meaning of amulet. For a long time, azuki beans were planted in the four corners of the field and on the path between rice fields to protect them from evil.

June 30th is also the day of the Harai of Natsukoshi, and it is also the day to get rid of evil for half a year by going through the Chinowa. They passed through Chinowa at the shrine and prayed that they could spend the latter six months safely.

Since it is a basin, the desire to survive the hot summer has continued for more than a thousand years in preparation for the hot and humid summer. Delicious Minazuki is sold at Japanese sweets shops in Kyoto.

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