Seiwa Shijyoryu, the Japanese Hochodo
(the Way of Court Knives), is a gathering of various chefs
where they improve their cooking skills and enrich their
minds through seeing, tasting and touching.
Seiwa Shijyoryu: Origin of Shikibocho (Court Knife Ceremony)
While there are many historical events associated with Hochodo, it is said that Hochodo
is one of the ceremonies that have been held at the Imperial Court from ancient times to
celebrate the New Year. The way of this ceremony has been recorded in various types
of paintings and writings since the Kamakura Period. What we call chefs or cooks
started to appear during the Muromachi Period, and it is said that the styles of cooking
also started to be developed around this time. Being considered as a profession of chefs
during the Edo Period, Shikibocho became a customary, solemn event held in the
presence of the Imperial family and the Shogun’s (general’s) family on January 19 at
the Imperial Court and on January 12 at the shogunate government, respectively.
Although there are various schools and styles of Shikibocho, the founder of Seiwa
Shijyoryu is Shingu Juro, formerly known as Minamoto no Yoshimori, who was the first
person of the Shingu clan.
Yoshimori was born as the tenth son of Tameyoshi, the Rokujo no Hangan of the Seiwa
Genji. He was under the care of a Kumano Shingu officer and changed his name from
Minamoto no Yoshimori to Shingu Juro. In 1183, he left for the capital and was
appointed as a Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank) and Kurodo (Chamberlain) Bizen no Kami
(Governor of Bizen Province). Under the mentorship of a Shingu officer named Hachijo
-in Kurodo Shingu Bizen no Kami Yukiie, he studied all sorts of rituals and manners and
became to assume important posts linked to various ceremonies and manners. The
Shingu clan had been entrusted to serve as Jugoi Kurodo for eleven generations, from
Yoshifusa to Yukitsugu, over the period of 165 years, and Juro took over Yukiie’
This post has been handed down to the clan, with Shingu Akiyuki as the 33rd head of
the school, Tone Moriharu as the 34th head and Takemori Kiyomoto as the current 35th
In Shijyoryu, there are over 50 traditional cutting styles for seafood, poultry and
agricultural produce. For offerings, only chopsticks and court knives are skillfully used,
without touching food with hands at all, to cut and serve food.
School of Shijyoryu
During the rule of Emperor Seiwa, the Jogan era (859-876), the Court Knife Ceremony was established
as a food offering ceremony, along with rituals and manners for entertaining with food and drinks which
included manners for various ceremonies held at the Imperial Court. Fujiwara Yamakagekyo, the father
of chefs, was given the status of Jugoi Kurodo in November of 858 and identified himself as Shijyosanin
Bizen no Kami, receiving the name of Shijyo. At the Court, he took charge of important posts associated
with various ceremonies. In 886, under the rule of Emperor Koko, Yamakagekyo gave offerings during
the Emperor’s visit. It is said that the cutting method of the Court Knife started when Yamakagekyo
used it to cut carps at the time. On May 11th in 887, he became Chunagon Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank,
Vice-Councilor of State) Fujiwara no Asomi San-in Kanetame Minbukyo (Minister of Popular Affairs).
After his passing on February 4th in 888, his students, those
who passed knowledge on to others, were considered as the
Shijyoryu Hochonin (chefs) and produced many outstanding
chefs. Unlike the School of Takahashi no Asomi, which
worked for the Emperors while handing down cuisine served
at the Imperial Palace from generation to generation,
the Shijyoryu cooking method was handed down by vassals.
In the Edo Period, Shijyoryu chefs served the Tokugawa
Shogun and have flourished up to the present date.
About cutting boards
As shown in the figure below, each part of a cutting board has its own name. It has been believed since
ancient times that the gods and Buddha dwell in cutting boards and bless food.Ensui means the etiquette
of being quiet and remaining controlled.Chohai means worshipping emperors and respecting gods
Shitoku means gods’ blessings, the sun, the moon and parents’ blessings.Gogyo means protecting
Shiza, which refers to the emperor, the sun, the moon and parents.Gods’ messengers come down to
cutting boards from above and protect them.Don’t consider them as enemies.
As for the size of a cutting board, its dimensions
have been stipulated as follows: “A cutting board
is approximately 83 cm in length, approximately
50 cm in width and approximately 9 cm in thickness.
The width of the leg is approximately 8 cm, and the
distance between the cut end of the leg and the back
of the cutting board is approximately 8 cm.