Gion Kajiko (祇園梶子)

Kajiko GION (year of birth and death unknown) was a poet who lived during the middle of the Edo period. Her real name was Kaji. Her real surname is unknown. She was also called Kajime.

She liked bound books and tales of poems ever since she was a child. She did not have a particular teacher, but she was so talented in poetry as to be given waka (Japanese poetry) by Tamemura REIZEI who was a Court noble.

She published "Kajinoha" (Kaji's Leaf) in 1706 which was a collection of poetry. Its illustrations were painted by Yuzensai MIYAZAKI who was famous for yuzen-dyed fabrics. As a rare shop with an owner that sang waka, her tea house prospered from customers who came for Kajiko's waka, and her name as a poet became known not only inside Kyoto, but all over the country. Kajiko was sometimes asked from her customers to write poems on folding fans that were illustrated by Yuzensai who also painted for the townspeople, and the customers made those fans as souvenirs from Kyoto.

She remained single all through her life, but she adopted Yuriko GION, and had her succeed the tea house. Like her adoptive mother Kajiko, Yuri was also talented in poetry, and left behind "Sayuriba" (Sayuri's Leaf) which was a collection of her poetry. Yuri had a daughter named Machi with the Tokuyama clan who was a hatamoto (direct retainers of the bakufu), and it was Machi who later on became a painter herself and was known as IKE no Gyokuran after she married IKE no Taiga. Kajiko, Yuriko, and Machi were known as the three major women in Gion.

[Original Japanese]