Saijiki – May

Farmers had a lot of festivals and ceremonies in connection with planting of rice. These take place in May and during the autumn. In the cities the festivals were during the hot summer months as that was the crucial time for their continued survival in the cities (due extreme heat and bad sanitation).

Names for the month
  • Sanaetsuki – Month of erly shoot
  • Tachibanatsuki – Month of citron flower
  • Tsukimizusuki – Month of not seeing the moon
  • Samidaretsuki – Month of early summer rain

  • Rikka – Beginning of summer, 5th of May.

Shoman – 20th of May, The lesser ripening.


  • Kurabe uma e shinji – A ritual horse race originally held at the imperial palace, but today it is held at Kamigamo Jinja, actually a prayer for a good harvest and a way of predicting where in Kyoto the best harvest would be.
  • Goryo Matsuri – 18th of May, for Ujigami (a protective spirite).
  • Hajijuhaji ya – 88 days after Risshun is the traditional date to begin picking new tea leaves at Uji.
  • Boys day – 5th of May. This celebration started out as Tango no Seku, which were held on the first horse day of the month. This was originally a day of purification and a memorial for Qu Yuan (known in Japan as Kutsugen). During this festival one throws Chimake (a sweet) in the river. A display of helmet is shown in houses where boys live. Kashiwa Mochi is the traditional sweet for this day, this is a sweet wrapped in a oak leaf. The reason for this is that oak is a symbol for boys as they start out being small but becomes large. During the Edo period this was one of the official festivals, today it is a popular team in the tea room
  • Aoi matsuri – 15th of May, annual festival at the Shimogamo and Kamigamo Jinja. One of the three big festivals in Kyoto along with Gion Maturi and Jidai Matsuri. This began 1400 years ago during reign of Emperor Kimei.
Dogu for the month
  • Because of traditional archery contests in this month dogu picturing arrow, bow, horses or quiver are good.
  • Because of the oxen carts used in festivals wheels are good for this month.
Zen words for May
  • 獅子吼 ・しいしくほえる (Lion roars)
  • 諸化一時開 ・しょかいちじにひらく (All flowers bloom at once)