Japanese Zodiac Origin and Information

by ebazaar 23 September 2009 No Comment

One more aspect that the Japanese people of the old times have outsourced from their nearest neighboring countries is the zodiac system, which in nature has many linkages with Buddhism. The Japanese zodiac system is so much similar to that of the ancient Chinese zodiac system, but in truth that is it the same thing after all. The Chinese zodiac system is rather ‘karmatic’ in nature. Something that is very well related to Buddhism. Instead of the linear pattern of the western calendar, the Chinese zodiac system adopted a set of cyclic system represented by 12 different animals and also on the basis of 60 years cycle which begins in the year 1024 (sexagenarian cycle system).

According to Nihon Shoki (720, Chronicles of Japan), Buddhism was actually brought into Japan through Korea, which perceptibly have received the concept from China itself. It was probably around the mid of the 6th century, that the concept of Chinese zodiac is brought into Japan and been eagerly received by the Japanese monks and governing authorities. The Japanese zodiac calendar is called as Kanshi or Eto in Japanese, and the twelve zodiac animals as Juunishi (‘Juuni’ meaning 12, and ‘shi’ means animal). The calendar, however, was officially adopted in the Japanese courts in 604 AD. Just like the Chinese, the Japanese too uses this zodiac system as their yearly calendar, source of fortune telling and describing a person’s characters, which is basically based on astrology and numerology.

Japanese zodiac animals

Japanese zodiac animals (image credited to Rei)

The twelve animals and what they are called in Japanese are; Nezumi(rat), Ushi(cow), Tora(Tiger), Usagi(Rabbit), Tatsu(Dragon, Hebi(Snake), Uma(Horse), Hitsuji(Sheep), Saru(Monkey), Tori(Rooster), Inu(Dog), Inoshishi(Boar). It is said that a person who are born under any one of these twelve animals possesses the personalities of his or her respective year’s animal.

The Japanese zodiac gain popularity during the Edo period (1600-1868 AD). However, recently, it is not being used as extensively as it was then. The modern Japanese are much more engrossed into using the western zodiac system and ketsueki-gata, especially young Japanese generations. If you go through Japanese bookstore and browse though their many magazines, it is much more common to see horoscope based on the western zodiac rather than the Japanese zodiac.

So what is your Japanese zodiac? ^0^ Read more about Japanese zodiac and the 12 zodiac animals’ personalities.

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