All About the 12 Japanese Zodiac Signs: Discover Your Inner Animal!

The 12 zodiac signs, known as juunishi (十二支), hold immense significance in Japanese culture, particularly during the transition into a new year. These signs are a fundamental component of the astrological system known as eto...

The 12 zodiac signs, known as juunishi (十二支), hold immense significance in Japanese culture, particularly during the transition into a new year. These signs are a fundamental component of the astrological system known as eto (干支).

Unlike the conventional characters, the Japanese zodiac employs unique kanji characters to represent each animal. Comprising of 12 animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and wild boar) and 5 elements (earth, wood, fire, metal, and water), the Japanese zodiac aligns each year with a specific animal. This cycle repeats every 12 years.

The kanreki (還暦), or 60th birthday, holds immense significance in a person's life as it marks the completion of 5 cycles of the juunishi. At 60 years old, an individual is metaphorically "reborn" as they embark upon another cycle, returning to the beginning once again.

Are the Japanese and Chinese zodiac the same?

The Japanese and Chinese zodiacs share similar traits, as the Chinese zodiac was introduced to Japan during the 4th to 5th century. While various myths exist concerning the order of animals within the zodiac, the most popular is the myth of the Jade Emperor, which is widely accepted in many Asian zodiac systems.

However, one distinction sets the Japanese zodiac apart from its Chinese counterpart - instead of the pig, the Japanese zodiac embraces the wild boar.

A typical Japanese new year’s decoration, featuring the 12 animals of the zodiac. A typical Japanese new year’s decoration, featuring the 12 animals of the zodiac.

What Japanese zodiac sign is 2024?

In 2024, the Japanese zodiac aligns with the wood dragon. Dragons hold immense importance in Japanese culture and mythology. Those born in the year of the wood dragon are believed to possess qualities of passion, creativity, and perceptiveness.

What Japanese zodiac sign is 2023?

2023 embraces the year of the water rabbit in the Japanese zodiac. The water rabbit symbolizes sensitivity and shyness, embodying a gentle nature. Lunar worshippers consider the rabbit to be the luckiest of all the zodiac signs.

What Japanese zodiac sign is 2022?

The year 2022 heralds the arrival of the water tiger, or mizunoe tora (壬寅), in Japan. Even before 2021 concludes, tiger-related merchandise, calendars, New Year's cards (nengajo / 年賀状), and decorations gain popularity across Japan. The brave water tiger symbolizes strength and courage.

An example of a Japanese new year card (nengajo) featuring the zodiac animal of the year - in this case, two cartoon tigers wearing traditional Japanese clothing (kimono). An example of a Japanese new year card (nengajo) featuring the zodiac animal of the year.

All about the Japanese zodiac animals

Rat 子 (ne)

Individuals born in the year of the Rat possess intelligence and persuasive abilities, making them natural leaders. They possess a relentless drive for success and have a knack for devising creative methods to achieve their goals.

Birth years: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Ox 丑 (ushi)

Oxen are renowned for their work ethic and patience. They never back down easily and serve as a source of inspiration to many. Their resourcefulness and innovative mindset enable them to achieve remarkable results.

Birth years: 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Tiger 寅 (tora)

Tigers possess an unpredictable and competitive nature, driven by intense emotions. In certain situations, they may act on impulse. These charismatic and courageous individuals have the ability to ignite inspiration in others.

Birth years: 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Rabbit 卯 (u)

Rabbit sign individuals are gentle and sensitive. They shy away from conflict, harboring a kind and sweet nature. Often considered the luckiest of all zodiac signs, these talented rabbits possess an array of skills.

Birth years: 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

Dragon 辰 (tatsu)

The Dragon, known as the most interesting sign, embodies strength, passion, and charisma. Their unwavering self-confidence and pride are instrumental in achieving their ambitions.

Birth years: 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Snake 巳 (mi)

Those under the Snake zodiac possess wisdom and logical thinking. Despite their reserved nature, they are financially fortunate and exhibit unyielding determination and thoughtfulness.

Birth years: 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

Horse 午 (uma)

The Horse zodiac sign represents quick-wittedness and adaptability. They effortlessly adjust to sudden changes and captivate others with their charisma, earning popularity among their peers.

Birth years: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

Sheep 未 (hitsuji)

The Sheep zodiac sign signifies creativity and self-expression through artistic means. These individuals remain true to their principles and excel in showing compassion to others.

Birth years: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Monkey 申 (saru)

Monkeys are known for their curiosity and cleverness. They possess excellent problem-solving skills and innovate with their creations. Embracing a simplistic outlook on life, they radiate originality.

Birth years: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

Rooster 酉 (tori)

Roosters are characterized by their assertiveness and bravery. Though their independence may lead to criticism or pride, Roosters channel it resourcefully. They fearlessly voice their thoughts and support those in need.

Birth years: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Dog 戌 (inu)

Similar to man's best friend, Dogs embody loyalty and responsibility. They prioritize protecting their loved ones and exhibit sociability, along with an abundance of affection.

Birth years: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Boar 亥 (i)

Boars are adventurous and optimistic individuals who exude an appreciation for life's simple pleasures. They are hardworking, honest, and possess a unique ability to find joy in the little things.

Birth years: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

In Conclusion

The 12 Japanese zodiac signs are a fascinating aspect of Japanese culture, revealing deep insights into personality traits and characteristics. Discovering your Japanese zodiac sign can provide a wealth of knowledge and self-awareness. Embrace the unique qualities associated with your inner animal and navigate life with a newfound understanding of yourself and others.

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