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Eto 干支 in Japanese culture

eto Japanese language culture


Eto is a zodiac animal that forms a 12-year cycle. From November to December, next year’s animals will begin to appear in various seasonal products sold in New Year’s cards and in Japan.

From mouse to wild boar

The idea of animals in the zodiac, which represent different years with a 12-year cycle, originally came from China. The first system to appear was a set of simple kanji representing 12 numbers. Originally used to calculate the number of years, it was later used to indicate the time zone and the direction of the compass, and was also used for fortune-telling. Eventually, a set of 12 animals was associated with the cycle.

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12 ets drawn in order on the ceiling of the main gate of Tenmangu in Osaka.

Zodiac animals vary slightly from Asian country to country. In Japan, called Eto, it is made up of rats, cows, tigers, lions, dragons, snakes, horses, sheep, monkeys, roosters, dogs, and wild boars. Illustrations and photos of 12 animals are posted on New Year’s cards and calendars.

Fortune-tellers predict what will happen in the year based on Eto, and some believe that personality is related to the beast of the year of birth. For example, 2017 was said to be good for business because it leads to prosperity. On the other hand, babies born in 2018, the year of dogs, will grow loyally and sociably according to these beliefs.

From November to December, the Japanese look forward to next year and buy New Year’s cards and stamps decorated with the corresponding animal designs. The custom of sending postcards and letters during the New Year has replaced the previous tradition of visiting the neighborhood. During the first few days of January, during the New Year, many people visit shrines and temples for the first visit of the year, the first visit to the shrines and temples, and wish them good luck for the next 12 months. This usually means writing a wish on a wooden ema tablet, which often has a picture of the animal of the year on one side. The festive chopsticks used earlier this year may be in a special Eto-designed bag.

Earthenware bells in the shape of Eto animals are a traditional attraction to bad luck. These bells are traditional purchases for the New Year holidays. Different regions boast their own local designs.

12 Eto is often a motif of popular culture, such as Natsuki Takaya’s “Furutsubasuket” and Nishio Ishin’s novel “Juni Taisen”. The long-standing cartoon Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto also featured 12 guardian ninjas, each associated with a different zodiac animal.

When you visit Tokyo Station, you can see eight ethos carved on the ceiling of the octagonal dome at the north exit of Marunouchi. They are made of fiberglass reinforced gypsum and oppose the gray-green background. It was a mystery that four animals went missing for years. After that, in 2013, the remaining Edo was discovered during the renovation work of the pylon of Takeo Onsen, Saga Prefecture, the hometown of Tatsuno Kongo, the designer of the Tokyo station building.










12 干支は、夏木隆也の『古都ばすけっと』や二代目イシンの『十二大戦』など、ポピュラーカルチャーの中でも頻繁に登場するモチーフである。また、岸本斉史の「NARUTO-ナルト-」では、干支の異なる動物にちなんだ12人の忍者が登場しました。





2008 子ね 🐀 子孫の豊饒と繁栄

2009年 丑 丑 丑 🐄 根気と誠意

2010 寅寅 🐯 決断力と知性

2011年 卯 u 🐇 家族の幸福と快進撃

2012年 辰辰 🐉 正義感と権力感

2013年 巳巳 mi 🐍 探究心・情熱・再生の感覚

2014年 午 uma 🐎 明るさと柔軟性

2015 未 ひつじ 🐑 家族の幸福と平和

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2017年 酉 TORI 🐓 ポジティブと商売繁盛

2018 戌 いぬ 🐶 献身性と社交性

2019年 亥 i 🐗 健康