The Chinese Zodiac

Japan uses the Chinese Zodiac of twelve animals, each animal representing one year in a cycle that begins with the rat and ends with the boar. Each animal is meant to have characteristics which give themselves to people born in that particular year. The question is often asked "Nani doshi?" to mean in what year of which animal where you born. In this way you can calculate the age of a person. For example, 1999 is the year of the rabbit, so if a young person in their twenties was to say they were born in the year of the rabbit their age would be 24. Their birth would have taken place in 1975.

The order of the animals is supposed to be down to the story of when Buddha called all the animals of the world to him. Only twelve came and they came in the order of the present zodiac. Unlike the Chinese year however, which follows the lunar calendar, the Japanese one begins with January 1st.

rat 1996

ox 1997

tiger 1998

rabbit 1999

dragon 2000

snake 2001

horse 2002

sheep 2003

monkey 2004

cock 2005

dog 2006

boar 2007


Home - Daily Life - Shopping - Japanese Language - Culture - Recreation - Medical Information - The Telephone - Things Foreign - Visa Information - Leaving - Chinese Zodiac