The Shijo School of the Way of the Kitchen Knife (四条流庖丁道)

The Shijo School of the Way of the Kitchen Knife ("Shijoryu-Hochodo" in Japanese) is a school of Japanese cuisine which is said to have originated in the Heian period. The way of the kitchen knife is also known as the "kitchen knife method". The way of the kitchen knife (or the kitchen knife method) is the name given to cooking-related matters such as the art of cooking, its etiquette, and its traditions, and it has as its symbol one of the most frequently used cooking utensils, the kitchen-knife.

It is said that the the Shijo School was derived from a new kitchen-knife method (cooking manner) which was establisehd by FUJIWARA no Yamakage (Shijo Chunagon, or Shijo Vice-Councilor, 824-888) in accordance with an order given by the Emperor Koko. FUJIWARA no Yamakage is supposed to have been simply designated as an expert well-versed in cooking and manners, since he had nothing to do with the Emperor's dietary office of the Imperial Household Bureau which was in charge of the food served at Court. Since the food custom and recipes introduced from Tang (China) is supposed to have been assimilated and taken root in Japan in the ninth century, the custom and recipes may have been integrated into Yusoku-kojitsu (knowledge of court rules, ceremony, documents and records of the past) by Yamakage.
That made Yamakage the 'father of restoration of Japanese cuisine.'

Many Schools
The kitchen-knife method established by Yamakage was handed down as a family profession to the Shijo family which was affililated with the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan, Uona Line and descended from FUJIWARA no Takasue; therefore, the method was called 'Shijo School.'
Since Yamakage is also affililated with the Uona Line (FUJIWARA no Washitori branch) but belongs to a school different from that of the Shijo family (FUJIWARA no Sueshige branch), Yamakage is not a direct ancestor of the Shijo family in the family tree (for further details, also refer to a family tree of each line of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan).

In the middle of the Kamakura period, Motouji SONO who was the third son of Motoie JIMYOIN of the Nakanomikado family and who started the Sono family learned the way of the Shijo School's kitchen-knife and established another school outside that of the Shijo School which was called 'Shijo-Sono school' (or simply Sono school) (Motouji was also well-versed in flower arrangement and originated Aoyama school).

In the Muromachi period, - Kimitsugu (Saburozaemon) OKUSA (a master of kitchen-knife (cooker) of Shijo School) who had served the Shogun family of Ashikaga clan established 'Okusa School,' - also, Hatakeyama School started from the Hatakeyama family (detailes unknown), - the origin of Hatakeyama School and everything from its preparation to manners including the recipe, kitchen-knife method, and table manners were transferred to the Shogun's retainer, Jiro SHINJI Saemon no jo (third-ranked officer of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) who was to establish the Shinji School, and - branches of Shijo School started to take hold in the cuisine not only in Court noble society but also in Bushi society.

When Motoyasu MATSUDAIRA (Ieyasu TOKUGAWA) became ruler of Japan and established the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), 'Shijo-Sonobe School' was charged with being responsible for the cuisine of the bakufu, since Sonobe Izuminokami (a master of kitchen-knife who had learned in Shijo School) had served the Matsudaira clan of Mikawa Province; consequently, that promoted to prevail Shijo School among domains in the Edo period.

Shjijo School Kitchen-Knife Book
In the later part of the Muromachi period, "Shjijo School Kitchen-knife Book" was written as a cook book which outlines the way of the kitchen-knife in Shijo School. According to the colophon which reads: 'seal of Tajimi Bungonokami Sadakata confirmed in late February, 1489,' the Shijo School is supposed to have been established around this period. Since the book contains a description of the ritual of the kitchen-knife method in Shijo School as well as descriptions starting with the naming and size of each place on the cutting board, followed by specific recipes, and decoration methods for chopsticks and eating utensils, it is now considered as a valuable historical source of information on materials and the art of cooking of the Japanese cuisine of those days.

The book introduces a variety of recipes including boiled geese skin, ushioni (boiled in salted water) of goose, fish cakes, grilled poultry (pheasant), sliced raw poultry (pheasant), prawn served on a boat-like plate, salted sea-cucumber entrails, ushioni of sea bream, and marinated jerry fish. The book also contains many interesting descriptions, one such passage describes Japanese horseradish (wasabi) and salt having to be arranged side by side to accompany sliced raw fish, and vinegar also being a necessity when serving in the Shijo School, and so on. From the descriptions of the use of dried bonito, it is understood that dried bonitos were already in use in these days.

The Okusa School books of inherited teachings including "Okusa School Cooking Book," "Lecture Notes of Inherited Teachings from Master Okusa," and the like which also survive, all of which are supposed to have been written a little later than the book mentioned above even though the actual creation date is unknown. The books are contained in the Dietary section of "Gunsho Ruiju" (collection of Japanese classics sorted by type).

Kitchen Knife Ceremony
This solemn demonstration of the masterly performance showed skill in handling a kitchen knife, and is considered to be the kitchen knife ceremony of the Shijo School, and has been passed on as the Kitchen Knife Ceremony of Shijo School to this day. The technique which is described as a tradition harking back to a time when FUJIWARA no Yamakage cleaned carp is revived by a performer in a lacquered hat and hitatare (samurai's large square-cut coat with cord laced sleeve edges) cutting and trimming such material as carp, sea bream, and bonito without touching the fish by using only a kitchen-knife and manabashi (type of long chopsticks used in the preparation of fish), which is sometimes dedicated on ritual occasions throughout Japan.

[Original Japanese]