Japanese and Chinese Zodiac


Anyone who has eaten in a Chinese restaurant knows the ox, dragon and other symbols in the Chinese zodiac. They may not, however, realize that traditionally, Japanese also used those signs in astrology and as part of a calendar that showed the time of year, date, time and even direction.
Jikkan Junishi (literally 10 stems and 12 branches) refers to the Chinese zodiac symbols, also called eto in Japanese. The 10 heavenly stems referred yin-yang principles and the elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The 12 earthly branches included 12 animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and wild boar.
The two sets were used together to enumerate years and other elements of the civil, or official, calendar. The 10 stems and 12 branches were used together to create a cycle of 60 two-symbol combinations. The complex calendar, called the sexagenary cycle, was officially adopted in Japan in 604 by the Empress Suiko.
Typically the calendar is depicted in a line, but when written out in a circle, the symbols are also used to note the time of day and directions. For example, the period between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. corresponds roughly to the hour of the rat and points north. The horse indicates a two-hour interval around midday and points south.
Just as some Westerners believe people take on the character of the zodiac symbol under which they are born, the Japanese believed that people took on the character of the animal sign of one's birth. For example, people born in the year of the rat (i.e., any year in which the rat symbol is part of the two-symbol combination) were restless. Those born in the year of the ox were patient. In Japan, women born in the year hinoe uma (fire-yang-horse) were thought to be headstrong and inclined to kill their husbands. The year also was thought to bring a rash of fires.
Koshin is the year or day within the sexagenary cycle that falls on the combination of ko (associated with metal and the planet Venus) and the monkey, or ninth symbol on the zodiac. In ancient Taoist tradition, on the night of a koshin day, three worms believed to dwell in the human body would sneak out and report a person's sins to the Celestial God. Upon learning of the person's sins, the god would shorten that individual's life. To prevent this, people stayed awake on koshin nights and the day eventually became known as the koshin machi or koshin wake.

Rat--1900 1912 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008
Ox--1901 1913 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009
Tiger--1902 1914 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010
Rabbit--1903 1915 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011
Dragon--1904 1916 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012
Snake--1905 1917 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013
Horse--1906 1918 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014
Goat--1907 1919 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015
Monkey--1908 1920 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016
Rooster--1909 1921 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017
Dog--1910 1922 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018
Boar--1911 1923 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019

All characteristics or traits (good or bad) may not apply to all individuals.

Zodiac Descriptions

The Rat - Ne
The Good:
People born in the year of the rat are
thrifty, honest, ambitious and charming.
The Bad:
They are easily angered, love to gossip,
and are fussy concerning small matters.
The Matches:
Best: Dragon, Monkey, Ox
Next: Rat, Tiger, Snake, Dog, Boar
Worst: Horse

The Ox Ushi
The Good:
People born in the year of the ox are
quiet, patient, mentally sharp and dexterous.
The Bad:
Although patient, they have an explosive temper.
They are eccentric, stubborn and bigoted.
The Matches:
Best: Snake, Cock, Rat
Next: Ox, Dragon, Rabbit, Monkey, Boar
Worst: Horse, Dog, Goat

The Tiger Tora

The Good:
People born in the year of the tiger are
sensitive, sympathetic, and courageous.
The Bad:
They are a little selfish, narrow-minded,
suspicious, and short-tempered.
The Matches:
Best: Horse, Dragon, Dog
Next: Rat, Ox, Rabbit, Tiger, Goat, Rooster, Boar
Worst: Snake, Monkey

The Rabbit Usagi

The Good:
People born in the year of the rabbit are
ambitious, talented, placid and virtuous.
The Bad:
They are melancholy, have a fondness for
mild gossip, and not that well informed.
The Matches:
Best: Goat, Boar, Dog
Next: Tiger, Snake, Horse,
Worst: Dragon, Rat, Rooster

The Dragon Tatsu

The Good:
People born in the year of the dragon are
honest, sensitive, healthy and brave.
The Bad:
They are stubborn, short-tempered, eccentric,
fastidious and excitable.
The Matches:
Best: Rat, Snake, Monkey, Rooster
Next: Tiger, Horse, Goat, Boar
Worst: Dog, Ox, Rabbit, Dragon

The Snake Mi

The Good:
People born in the year of the snake are
wise, sympathetic, passionate and good looking.
The Bad:
They are perfectionists, vain,
selfish and a little stingy.
The Matches:
Best: Ox, Rooster
Next: Rat, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Dog
Worst: Monkey, Tiger, Boar

The Horse Uma

The Good:
People born in the year of the horse are
financially adept, cheerful, talented and independent.
The Bad:
They are easily angered, talk too much,
and will not listen to advise.
The Matches:
Best: Tiger, Dog, Goat
Next: Dragon, Snake, Monkey, Rooster, Boar
Worst: Rat, Ox, Rabbit, Horse

The Goat Hitsuji

The Good:
People born in the year of the goat are
gentle, generous, deeply religious and shy.
The Bad:
They are too timid, pessimistic,
insecure, and indecisive.
The Matches:
Best: Rabbit, Boar, Horse
Next: Tiger, Dragon, Snake, Goat, Rooster
Worst: Rat, Ox, Dog

The Monkey Saru

The Good:
People born in the year of the monkey are
skillful, inventive, successful and have lots of common sense.
The Bad:
They are strong natured, and have a
tendency to hold people in contempt.
The Matches:
Best: Dragon, Rat
Next: Rabbit, Goat, Dog,
Worst: Snake, Boar, Tiger

The Rooster Tori

The Good:
People born in the year of the rooster are
ambitious, adventurous and deep thinking.
The Bad:
They are selfish, callous, and untrusting.
The Matches:
Best: Dragon, Snake, Ox
Next: Tiger, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Boar
Worst: Rabbit, Rat, Rooster, Dog

The Dog Inu

The Good:
People born in the year of the dog are
good leaders, loyal, honest, and secret keepers.
The Bad:
They are somewhat unemotional, selfish,
and have a caustic sharp tongue.
The Matches:
Best: Horse, Tiger, Rabbit
Next: Rat, Snake, Monkey, Dog, Boar
Worst: Dragon, Goat, Ox, Rooster

The Boar I

The Good:
People born in the year of the rat are
chivalrous, honest, quite, loyal and affectionate.
The Bad:
They are short-tempered, limited in knowledge,
and will not seek outside help.
The Matches:
Best: Rabbit, Goat
Next: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Horse, Dog
Worst: Snake, Monkey, Boar


Born in
1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008.

They are known for his charm and attraction for the opposite sex.
You are imaginative, charming,
and truly generous to the person you love. However, you have a tendency to
be quick-tempered and overly critical.
You are thrifty with matters of money
You are easily angered but love to gossip.
You are also inclined to be
somewhat of an opportunist. Born under this sign, you should be happy in
sales or as a writer, critic, or publicist.

Lucky Numbers:
1, 4, 5, 10, 11, 14, 41, 45, 51, and 54.

Equivalent Western Sign: Sagittarius

Famous RATS Include:
Louis Armstrong, Shirley Bassey, Marlon Brando, Doris Day, Clark Gable, Hugh Grant, Charlton Heston, Gene Kelly, Glenda Jackson, Kris Kristofferson, Gary Lineker, Sean Penn, Burt Reynolds, Olivia Newton-John, Tommy Steele, Donna Summer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Kim Wilde.

Born in
1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
People of this sign are usually very patient and inspire confidence in others.
However, they tend to be eccentric and are easy to anger.
A born leader, you inspire confidence from all
around you. You are conservative methodical, and good with your hands.
Guard against being chauvinistic and always demanding your own way.
The OX would be successful as a skilled surgeon, general or hairdresser.

Lucky Numbers:
1, 3, 5, 12, 15, 33, 35, 51 and 53.

Equivalent Western Sign: Capricorn

Famous OXEN Include:
Warren Beatty, Jon Bon Jovi, Jeff Bridges, Richard Burton, Barbara Cartland, Charlie Chaplin, Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis Jr, Walt Disney, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins, Don Johnson, Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Heather Locklear, Eddie Murphy, Jessica Lange, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Rod Steiger, Peter Sellers, Sissy Spacek, Bruce Springsteen, Meryl Streep, Twiggy.

Born in
1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
You are sensitive, emotional, and capable of great love. However,
you have a tendency to get carried away and be stubborn about what you
think is right; often seen as a "Hothead" or rebel.
You can be extremely short tempered, usually can not make up your minds, which can result in a poor decision making
Your sign shows you
would be excellent as a boss, explorer, race car driver, or

Lucky Numbers:
4, 5, 7, 9, 13, 34, 44, 45 and 54.

Equivalent Western Sign: Aquarius

Famous TIGERS Include:
Sir David Attenborough, Tom Berenger, Agatha Christie, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Dickinson, Isadora Duncan, Roberta Flack, Frederick Forsyth, Jodie Foster, Sir Alec Guiness, Hugh Hefner, William Hurt, Marilyn Monroe, Demi Moore, Beatrix Potter, Diana Rigg, Lionel Ritchie, Kenny Rogers, Dylan Thomas, H.G. Wells, Stevie Wonder, Natalie Wood.

Born in
1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
You are very ambitious.
You are the kind of person, that people like to be around
affectionate, obliging, always pleasant. You have a tendency, though, to
get too sentimental and seem superficial.
You would make good gamblers because you have the uncanny gift of choosing the right numbers.
Being cautious and conservative,
you are successful in business but would also make a good lawyer,
diplomat, or actor.

Lucky Numbers:
1, 3, 5, 9, 15, 19 and 35.

Equivalent Western Sign: Pisces

Famous RABBITS Include:
Harry Belafonte, Ingrid Bergman, Lewis Carroll, John Cleese, Peter Falk, Peter Fonda, James Fox, David Frost, Cary Grant, Oliver Hardy, Bob Hope, Whitney Houston, John Hurt, Michael Keaton, John Keats, Julian Lennon, Arthur Miller, Roger Moore, Tatum O'Neal, George Orwell, Neil Simon, Jane Seymour, Dusty Springfield, Sting, Orson Welles, Norman Wisdom.

Born in
1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000
Usually very healthy and energetic.
Full of vitality
and enthusiasm, the Dragon is a popular individual even with the
reputation of being foolhardy and a "big mouth" at times. You are
intelligent, gifted, and a perfectionist but these qualities make you
unduly demanding on others.
However, their nature pushes you to be short tempered and stubborn from time to time.
You would be well-suited to be an artist,
priest, or politician.

Lucky Numbers:
3, 4, 5, 6, 15, 21, 34, 35, 36 and 45.

Equivalent Western Sign: Aries

Famous DRAGONS Include:
Jeffrey Archer, Michael Barrymore, Count Basie, Julie Christie, James Coburn, Bing Crosby, Neil Diamond, Matt Dillon, Placido Domingo, Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, Marlene Dietrich, Tom Jones, John Lennon, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Elaine Paige, Gregory Peck, Cliff Richard, Martin Sheen, Ringo Starr, Shirley Temple.

Born in
1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001
Usually say little and possess great wisdom.
You are often selfish and a bit stingy, but you have a lot of sympathy for
others and will go to great length to try to help those less fortunate.
Rich in wisdom and charm, you are romantic and deep thinking and
your intuition guides you strongly. Avoid procrastination and your stingy
attitude towards money. Keep your sense of humor about life. The Snake
would be most content as a teacher, philosopher, writer, psychiatrist, and
fortune teller.

Lucky Numbers:
1, 2, 4, 6, 13, 24, 42 and 46.

Equivalent Western Sign: Taurus

Famous SNAKES Include:
Kim Basinger, Randy Crawford, Bob Dylan, Greta Garbo, Art Garfunkel, Audrey Hepburn, Paul Hogan, Liz Hurley, Carole King, Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum, Mike Oldfield, Ryan O'Neal, Dorothy Parker, Brad Pitt, Brooke Shields, Paul Simon, Dionne Warwick, Oprah Winfrey, Virginia Woolf, Susannah York.

Born in
1918, 1930, 1942, 1954,1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Usually are popular and cheerful.
Your capacity for hard work is amazing. Your are
your own person-very independent. While intelligent and friendly, you have
a strong streak of selfishness and sharp cunning and should guard against
being egotistical. Your sign suggests success as an adventurer, scientist,
poet, or politician.

Lucky Numbers:
1, 3, 4, 8, 13, 14, 41 and 43.

Equivalent Western Sign: Gemini

Famous HORSES Include:
Rowan Atkinson, Ingmar Bergman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Cindy Crawford, James Dean, Clint Eastwood, Britt Ekland, Linda Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Harrison Ford, Bob Geldof, Gene Hackman, Rita Hayworth, Jimi Hendrix, Janet Jackson, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Raquel Welch, John Travolta, Michael York.

Born in
1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015...
People of this sign are usually elegant and highly accomplished in arts,
but they are often shy, pessimistic and puzzled about the things of life.
Except for the knack of always getting off on the wrong foot with
people, the Goat can be charming company. Your are elegant and artistic
but the first to complain about things. Put aside your pessimism and worry
and try to be less dependent on material comforts. You would be best as an
actor, gardener, or beachcomber.

Lucky Numbers:
3, 4, 5, 12, 34, 45 and 54.

Equivalent Western Sign: Cancer

Famous GOATS Include:
Pamela Anderson, Jane Austen, Anne Bancroft, George Burns, Leslie Caron, Catherine Deneuve, Robert De Niro, John Denver, Mel Gibson, George Harrison, Julio Englesias, Buster Keaton, Mick Jagger, Sir Laurence Olivier, Vangelis, John Wayne, Bruce Willis, Debra Winger.

Born in
1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016...
Usually erratic geniuses.
You are remarkably inventive and original, and can solve the most difficult problems with a lot of ease.
You are a vary intelligent and a very clever wit. Because of your
extraordinary nature and magnetic personality, you are always well-liked.
The Monkey, however, must guard against being an opportunist and
distrustful of other people. Your sign promises success in any field you

Lucky Numbers:
3, 4, 5, 7, 16, 23, 34, 45 and 54.

Equivalent Western Sign: Leo

Famous MONKEYS Include:
David Bellamy, Jacqueline Bisset, Victor Borge, Yul Brynner, Johnny Cash, David Copperfield, Joan Crawford, Timothy Dalton, Ian Fleming, Jerry Hall, Tom Hanks, Harry Houdini, Walter Matthau, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Perkins, Debbie Reynolds, Diana Ross, Tom Selleck, Omar Sharif, Martin Shaw, Rod Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Kiri Te Kanawa.

Born in
1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
People of this sign are usually deep thinkers and are very and talented.
You like to be busy and are devoted beyond their capabilities.
You are often a bit eccentric and often have problems in relationship with others.
The Rooster is a hard worker; shrewd and definite in decision
making often speaking his mind. Because of this, you tend to seem boastful
to others. You are a dreamer, flashy dresser, and extravagant to an
extreme. Born under this sign you should be happy as a restaurant owner,
publicist, soldier or world traveler.

Lucky Numbers:
1, 5, 6, 12, 15, 16, 24 and 51.

Equivalent Western Sign: Virgo

Famous ROOSTERS Include: Dirk Bogarde, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Michael Caine, Eric Clapton, Joan Collins, Errol Flynn, Melanie Griffith, Richard Harris, Goldie Hawn, Katherine Hepburn, Diane Keaton, Jayne Mansfield, Steve Martin, James Mason, Somerset Maugham, Bette Midler, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, Kim Novak, Yoko Ono, Dolly Parton, Michelle Pfeiffer, George Segal, Peter Ustinov.

Born in
1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018...
People of this sign possess the best traits of human nature.
They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest, and inspire others since
they can keep secrets.
The Dog will never let you down. Born under this sign you are honest, and faithful to those you
love. You are plagued by constant worry, a sharp tongue, and a tendency to
be a fault finder, however. You would make an excellent businessman,
activist, teacher, or secret agent.

Lucky Numbers:
1, 4, 5, 9, 10, 14, 19, 28, 30, 41, 45 and 54.

Equivalent Western Sign: Libra

Famous DOGS Include:
Brigitte Bardot, Candice Bergen, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Naomi Campbell, Cher, Petula Clark, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sally Field, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ava Gardner, Michael Jackson, Sophie Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, David Niven, Sydney Pollack, Elvis Presley, Prince, Sade, Claudia Schiffer, Slyvester Stallone, Sharon Stone.

Born in
1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019...
Usually very gallant. When they do something, they do it with all their heart.
They have tremendous fortitude and great honesty. They do not have many friends,
but the ones they have are for life.
You are a splendid companion,
an intellectual with a very strong need to set difficult goals and carry
them out. You are sincere, tolerant, and honest but by expecting the same
from others, you are incredibly naive. Your quest for material goods could
be your downfall. The Pig would be best in the arts as an entertainer, or
possible a lawyer.

Lucky Numbers:
1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 16, 18, 34, 41 and 48.

Equivalent Western Sign: Scorpio

Famous PIGS Include:
Bryan Adams, Woody Allen, Julie Andrews, Fred Astaire, Richard Attenborough, Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Glenn Close, Richard Dreyfuss, Farrah Fawcett, Ernest Hemingway, Barry Gibb, Alfred Hitchcock, Elton John, Kevin Kline, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dudley Moore, Marie Osmond, Michael Parkinson, Lee Remick, Ginger Rogers, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Spielberg, Emma Thompson.

Chinese Lunar Calendar

Background and Concept

The Chines animal signs are a 12-year cycle used for dating the years. They represent a cyclical concept of time, rather than the Western linear concept of time. The Chinese Lunar Calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, and is constructed in a different fashion than the Western solar calendar. In the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the year falls somewhere between late January and early February. The Chinese have adopted the Western calendar since 1911, but the lunar calendar is still used for festive occasions such as the Chinese New Year. Many Chinese calendars will print both the solar dates and the Chinese lunar dates.

The Twelve Animal Signs

Background Information

In the United States, the years are dated from the birth of Jesus Christ, for example, 1977 means 1,977 years after the birth of Christ. This represents a linear perception of time, with time proceeding in a straight line from the past to the present and the future. In traditional China, dating methods were cyclical, cyclical meaning something that is repeated time after time according to a pattern. A popular folk method which reflected this cyclical method of recording years are the Twelve Animal Signs. Every year is assigned an animal name or "sign" according to a repeating cycle: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar. Therefore, every twelve years the same animal name or "sign" would reappear.

A cultural sidelight of the animal signs in Chinese folklore is that horoscopes have developed around the animal signs, much like monthly horoscopes in the West have been developed for the different moon signs, Pisces, Aries, etc. For example, a Chinese horoscope may predict that a person born in the Year of the Horse would be, "cheerful, popular, and loves to compliment others". These horoscopes are amusing, but not regarded seriously by the Chinese people.

The animal signs also serve a useful social function for finding out people's ages. Instead of asking directly how old a person is, people often ask what is his or her animal sign. This would place that person's age within a cycle of 12 years, and with a bit of common sense, we can deduce the exact age. More often, though, people ask for animal signs not to compute a person's exact numerical age, but to simply know who is older among friends and acquaintances.


According to Chinese legend, the twelve animals quarreled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest: whoever was to reach the opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish.

All the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in. Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back. As the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox's back, and won the race. The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last.

Zodiac Chart: The rotating cycle of twelve animal signs was a folk method for naming the years in traditional China. The animal signs for one another in an established order, and are repeated every twelve years. 1976 was the Year of the Dragon, and 1977 was the year of the Snake.

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