June is the start of rainy season in Japan and I almost feel like we are having it also except it’s a lot colder here in the U.K. Minazuki it’s a representation of the month of water. It is the month in Japan when the beautiful mop heads of hydrangeas (known as Ajisai) are in full bloom and many people despite the rain flock to the parks temples and shrines to see them.It seams to me that every month in Japan has something beautiful to see or experience.
Minazuki is also the name of the see through triangle shaped wagashi (Japanese sweet)that is eaten on the 30th of June.
It is taken from a Shinto ritual called Ooharae eaten twice a year on the 30th of June and the 30th of December for the purification of sins and bad luck from the first or second half of the year.
The triangle shape is meant to resemble a block of ice ( chasing away the summer heat) and the azuki beans signify the exorcism of devils.
The sweets are the poor equivalent of a Royal treat believe it or not. The emperor was served shaved ice (remembering in Edo times there were no refrigerators) The ice had been taken in to storage in the wintertime and served in the summer.
At this time Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto have a ceremony where you walk through a ring of straw for purification. You can see these rings at many shrines in Japan over the summer or winter in keeping with the Shinto Ooharae ritual.
These pictures were taken at the shrine at Enoshima and also the Eshin-in Temple Uji Kyoto.
They are called Chinowa (the ring of purification)
If you would like to see more of Kitano Tenmangu,Enoshima or Uji please visit my travel section.
I decided to make my own Minazuki this year from kuzu mochi.
If you see these in Japan then you know summer has really arrived!