What to Learn about the Juunishi, the Japanese Zodiac

What is the Juunishi?

The Juunishi, or Junishi, is the Japanese zodiac calendar. It is a twelve-year cycle calendar where an animal is assigned to represent every year. This means that a certain year is equivalent to an animal sign, the same animal sign will repeat after 12 years. It is a system that is used to forecast the future, it is based on the combination of astrology and divination.

A person’s zodiac can be determined by the year for which they have been born. For instance, a person born in 2008 is of the rat zodiac while a person born in 2011 is a rabbit zodiac. Two persons who are aged 12 years apart usually have the same animal sign. For instance, a person born on 2000 and 2012 are both dragon zodiacs.

This system, according to historical records, uses the behavior of the moon’s phases. This is due to the fact that during the earlier times, most oriental regions rely on the lunar calendar to record time. They use the movement of the constellations in the sky to “foretell” the future. Not only this, this zodiac was used as a means of describing an individual. There is a generalized set of behaviors and personalities which are believed to aptly describe people of a certain sign.

The zodiac is very important in the life and living of the Japanese people during the earlier times. It is their means of foretelling a person’s luck and fortune. A lot of people have relied on these “forecasts” in their major decision making like where to build their homes, what businesses to establish and even who they can marry.

This particular system is popular not only in Japan but in most oriental nations in the world. It is practiced still in Thailand, Mongolia, Vietnam and even some parts of Russia. On the other hand, even if these are based on the original Chinese Zodiac, there are now variations depending on the country being considered.

Other Zodiac systems base the animal sign on the month and date of birth, but this is much more difficult to track. Also, it is much more difficult to record the cycle per day. This is why most cultures would rather prefer the yearly cycles. There are other Zodiacs that base their cycles on the behavior of the sun.

History of the Japanese Zodiac

Based on historical records, the Japanese zodiac is a custom which was brought to Japan by the Chinese. It became widely accepted to the local population along with their welcoming acceptance to Buddhism. It is believed to have reached the Japanese shores in the year 600s. It is believed that Buddhists from China brought this custom to the Japanese society. This is also the reason why there are bosatsu deities which are believed to be patrons of each animal zodiac. This is in contrary to the belief that it is the Shinto religion that brought it to the Japanese shores.

However, the Chinese zodiac was developed much earlier than the year 600 AD.  It is an established system even before it reached the shores of Japan and other parts of Asia. It was used in households, businesses, and even the government.

In the Japanese society, asking for a person’s animal sign is a way of estimating one’s age. This is especially true during the earlier times. What is more interesting about this is the fact that during the year 1600s, the animal zodiacs became a means of telling both time and direction.

What is the Japanese Zodiac Story?

A lot of people always wondered why the cat is not part of the animal Zodiacs and there is an interesting story that explains this. According to legends, an emperor invited all the animals to join the New Year festivities and has declared the first twelve animals to be the winner. Each animal had used their skills to their advantage and has found means to deal with their weaknesses.

All the animals needed to cross a river to get to the Emperor’s home. The slowest animal, the ox, decided to start the earliest. Since the mouse is not that great of a swimmer, he decided to ride the back of the ox, without the knowledge of the big animal. Almost winning the race, the ox happily reached the gates of the Emperor’s home. However, before he could do so the rat jumped to first place. This is why the ox only came in second.

The rabbit hopped through the stones of the river, the dog took the time to play in the water, the pig got too hungry that he ate and fell asleep. All other animals have reached the home of the Emperor, except for one animal. The cat arrived one day later than all the other animals.

Based on the story the cat has forgotten the real date of the feast and chose to ask the rat about it. The scheming rat, due to his hatred towards the cat, told a lie about the feast being a day later than it truly is.  This is why, up until today, cats chase mice because it is believed that they still hate them for it.

What to know about Japanese Zodiac?

Japanese Zodiac dates or Japanese zodiac years

There is a specific order for which the cycle circulates. The chronology of the animal signs would start with the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and last would be the pig. This means that if the year 2008 is the year of the rat, 2009 is ox, 2010 is a tiger, 2011 is a rabbit, 2012 is a dragon, 2013 is a snake, 2014 is a horse, 2015 is sheep, 2016 is a monkey, 2017 is a rooster, 2018 is a dog, and 2019 would be a pig. It is important to note that the year 2020, which is 12 years after 2008, will be the year of the rat again.

Japanese Zodiac Symbols

It is most common to see animal sign symbols whenever there are festivals and celebrations before and after the lunar New Year. Most New Year merchandise are usually designed with the animal sign like lanterns, key chains, house decors and the like.

The symbols of these zodiac signs are animals because of the origin story for which it was based on. They have used animals as their symbols because the general behavior of individuals who fall under these Zodiacs have similar characteristics to the animal sign that they have. For instance, dog Zodiacs are known to be loyal and monkey Zodiacs are known to be cunning. Instead of using other symbolism, they have used symbols that most humans are familiar with and most people easily understand.

What are the twelve Japanese Zodiac Animals?

Japanese Zodiac Dragon

The Japanese name for the dragon zodiac is tatsu. It is believed that a person of the dragon zodiac is energetic. They are also believed to be brave but short-tempered. They are known to have good fortune which is why a lot of married couples always plan for their children to be born with this animal sign. There are different kinds of dragon Zodiacs and these are based on their corresponding elemental sign. There are earth dragons, water dragons, wood dragons, fire dragons and metal dragons.

Japanese Zodiac Tiger

The Japanese name for the tiger zodiac is tora. It is believed that they are sensitive but courageous. They are also believed to be stubborn and short tempered. Just like the dragon zodiac, there are different kinds of tiger signs depending on its affiliated elemental sign.

The Rat Zodiac

The Japanese name for the rat zodiac is nezumi. According to the zodiac, those who are born to have the rat animal sign are very intelligent and artistic. It is also said that they are charming, charismatic and persuasive. On the other hand, it is believed that people with this traits are manipulative and scheming.

The Year of the Dog

The Japanese name of the dog Zodiac is inu. It is believed that those who are born to have the dog animal sine are dutiful and loyal. It is also believed that they are honest and confident. What is interesting about people who are born in the year of the dog don’t have distinct negative qualities.

Japanese Zodiac Rooster

The Japanese name for the rooster sign is tori. People who are born to have rooster animal signs are believed to be those who are strongly devoted to their work. They are usually very frank, especially when it comes to ideas that they have in their minds. In some countries, the rooster is equivalent to the chicken zodiac. Others use birds, generally, in place of roosters.

Japanese Zodiac Monkey

The Japanese name for the monkey zodiac is saru. These people are believed to be geniuses. They are full of skill and are often described as clever individuals. They are smart and fast when making decisions, especially in the financial aspect. It is also said that they are inventive and very original.

The Horse Zodiac

The Japanese name for the horse zodiac is uma. Just like individuals who are born with the monkey sign, these people are known to be skillful especially when it comes to finances. They are also very quick thinkers and wise. On the other hand, people who are born with this sign is often described to be short-tempered and impatient.

The Year of the Ox

The Japanese name for the ox is ushi. It is believed that these people are patient and confident. They are also always aiming for success. They are mentally alert and tactful. Those who are born of the year of the ox are believed to be very inventive as well.

The Japanese Zodiac Rabbit

The Japanese name for the rabbit is usagi. These are people with very good luck. They are talented and ambitious, just like all their other animal sign counterparts. They are admirable, honest, and very trustworthy, especially when keeping up with the schedule.

The Year of the Snake

The Japanese name for this animal sign is hebi. Out of all the animal signs, people who are born in the year of the snake are the wisest. They are very lucky when it comes to making money and handling it. The negative thing about those who are born in the year of the snake is the fact that they take failures very personally.

The Pig Zodiac

The Japanese name for this animal sign is inoshishi. In some countries, this is also known to be the boar zodiac sign. They are believed to be very brave and very honest. On the other hand, they are very short-tempered but are great at keeping their cool. They are the kindest of all the other animal signs.

The year of the Sheep

The Japanese name for this is hitsuji. Those who are born of the year of the sheep are believed to be very artistic, and elegant. They are known to be the animal sign who loves and cares for nature the most. They are also very passionate and very religious.

What to know about the compatibility of Zodiac?

The year of the rat is most compatible with dragons and monkeys. The year of the ox is most compatible with snakes and roosters. The year of the tiger is most compatible with dogs and horses. The year of the dragon is most compatible with monkeys and rats. The year of the dog is most compatible with tigers and horses. The year of the sheep is most compatible with pigs and rabbits. The year of the rabbit is most compatible with pigs and goats. The year of the pig is most compatible with goats and rabbits. The year of the snake is most compatible with roosters and ox. The monkey with dragons and rats. The year of the horse is most compatible with dogs and tigers.

The animal signs with the least compatibility are as follows: Rat to the horse, Ox to sheep, Tiger to a monkey, a dragon to the dog, a pig to the snake, rabbit to the rooster.