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September 14, 2022 7 min read
Ever since the dawn of time, astrology has answered the most obscure questions of humanity. Halfway between science and superstition, the influence of this divinatory art has marked the great civilizations of the world from Mesopotamia to ancient Greece, including Asia. If in the West the astrological signs are calculated from the month and the day of birth, in Asia it is the year that counts. Japan, the country of beliefs, bases its astrology on Chinese astrology and its traditional calendar.
Rat, snake, ox... discover your Japanese sign and its symbolism.
In ancient times, it was believed that the celestial movements were messages sent by the gods and that the position of the planets influenced the destiny of people. Japanese astrology appeared in the Yamato period and was based on the traditional calendar and astronomical notions of that time.
12 Chinese astrological signs. Source: rd.com
Astrology and astronomy belong to the arts and sciences of Chinese culture imported around the 6th century. The zodiac is part of a 12-year cycle based on the lunisolar calendar. Each year corresponds to a symbolic animal and borrows its characteristics. According to Chinese astrologers, a person born under the sign of an animal would have its character traits. Similarly, its element would considerably influence its personality and destiny while its life force or qi would depend on its date and time of birth.
The 12 signs of the Japanese zodiac are inspired by the Chinese animals. In the Land of the Rising Sun, we find the same creatures but with a few nuances. For example, the goat corresponds to the sheep and the pig becomes a wild boar. There must be a little difference ;-). Also, the year starts on January 1st unlike the Chinese New Year which is based on the lunar calendar, which creates a slight gap between the horoscopes.
Surprisingly, the cat is not among the Japanese astrological signs. An anecdote tells that it would have arrived too late. However, if you want to unravel this mystery, do not hesitate to watch the manga Fruits Basket whose plot revolves around this subject.
As in Western astrology, the Chinese horoscope is related to cosmological elements that correspond to the 5 main planets (Wood for Jupiter, Fire for Mars, Earth for Saturn, Metal for Venus and Water for Mercury). Together with your animal, they would influence your character and your destiny. These elements also have a symbolic color.
At the origin of Chinese astrology, we find the famous legend of Buddha which defines the order of the animals of the zodiac.
It is said that Buddha, before his death, had organized a race to define a temporal system for humans. The buffalo goes first. On his way, he met the rat and the cat who asked him to carry them on his back to cross the river, which he accepted. Cunningly, the rat pushes the cat into the water and jumps on the bank thanks to a bamboo rod. He won the race followed by the buffalo and the tiger. The cat finished third, ahead of the rabbit; then came the dragon who had helped a village affected by drought. Next came the snake, which had slithered into the horse's hair, before scaring the horse, which then fell behind. Next came the sheep, the monkey and the rooster, who had made their way together. Shortly after, the dog arrived soaked, because he had spent all his time in the water. Finally, the pig stopping regularly on the road to nibble on whatever he could, finishes last.
Table of the years of bad luck. Source: Wikipedia.
Astrological beliefs are important in the Japanese society. Some years, called yakudoshi, are said to be bad according to Japanese superstitions. Thus, 19, 33 and 37 years for women and 25, 42, 61 years for men are unlucky years.
In the same way, the influence of the stars would also have played on the demography. So much so that in 1966, the year of the fire horse, there was a significant drop in the birth rate. Indeed, it is a sign that brings bad luck to women especially if they are related to the fire element.
Still today, Japanese people believe in the compatibility of zodiac signs for romantic relationships. Also, some use astrology to predict the right time to build their career or have their first child.
The 12 animals of the Japanese zodiac system are called junishi 十二支. Each one has specific character traits that we are going to introduce to you:
If you belong to the sign of the ox, you are a hard worker who is involved in his responsibilities. You are calm and patient by nature and inspire confidence. Family and work are important to you. Surround yourself with rats, monkeys and roosters but avoid sheep.
If you were born under the symbol of the tiger, your pride may be extremely pronounced. Charismatic, you are a leader who loves to protect others. Justice is crucial to you and you never give up. Dare to take risks, because you always land on your feet. Pigs, horses and dragons are your allies while monkeys are your enemies.
Sheep natives are often kind and persuasive. Lovers of nature, they exude a certain talent for arts. Reserved by nature, Sheep prefer to keep things to themselves. Allergic to conflict, they will always choose the gentle way. If they get along well with horses, boars and rabbits, they do not appreciate oxen.
Roosters are particularly punctual and efficient. They are dedicated and charismatic people who are outspoken. Sometimes annoying, this astrological sign tends to want to organize everything. Their friends: snakes and oxen, but no rabbits.
Those born in the year of the boar are usually good people. Generally they are kind, generous and dynamic people. However, be careful because a boar is not patient and it is better not to provoke them. Besides, this Japanese astrological sign does not support discord. Sheep, rabbits and tigers are compatible with the boar while they will avoid snakes.
Every year in Japan, one of the twelve signs of the zodiac is honored. This is an opportunity to celebrate the men (toshi-otoko) and women (toshi-onna) who carry this astrological sign.
In 2022 for example, it is the year of the water tiger; a particularly favorable year for goats, dragons and monkeys. During these twelve months influenced by the tiger, courage and ardor will be the order of the day...
In the Land of the Rising Sun, the Gregorian calendar is used. This means that the new year starts on January 1st just like in our country. At this period, we can find postcards and other products such as pastries and good luck charms with the effigy of the animal of the year. Also, the animal is on the ema (plates on which we write our wishes) in temples and shrines to attract luck.
How about you, what is your Japanese sign? Do you recognize yourself in its character traits?
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