Happy Chinese New Year!
But because this blog is more about Japan than China and since Japan has borrowed the Chinese Zodiac symbols, I'll take this opportunity to talk about the Asian Zodiac.
干支 (Eto) refers to the Chinese Zodiac symbols. Unlike the Western Zodiac which is divided into 12 months, the Asian Zodiac is divided into 12 years. Each year is named after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and boar. It is said to have been adopted in Japan in 604, during the reign of Empress Suiko. This year is the Year of the Boar.
Rat 鼠 (nezumi) --- Born 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960...People born in the year of the Rat are charming, honest, ambitious, and have a tremendous capacity for pursuing a course to its end. They will work hard for their goals. They are easily angered but maintain an outward show of control. They tend to dislike Mickey Mouse.
Ox 牛 (ushi) --- Born 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961...Ox People are patient, mentally alert and when required to speak are skilful. They have a gift for inspiring confidence in others. This allows them to achieve a great deal of success. They tend to enjoy being milked.
Tiger 寅 (tora) --- Born 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962...Tiger People are sensitive, stubborn, short-tempered, courageous, selfish and slightly mean, yet they are deep thinkers and are capable of great sympathy for those they are close to and love. Clubber Lang hates those with the Eye of the Tiger.
Rabbit 兎 (usagi) --- Born 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963...Rabbit People are the most fortunate. They are smooth talkers, talented, ambitious, virtuous and reserved. They have exceedingly fine taste and regarded with admiration and trust. They often say, "What's Up, Doc?"
Dragon 竜 (tatsu) --- Born 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964...Dragon People are healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered and stubborn. However, they are honest, sensitive, brave and can inspire trust in most anyone. They are the most peculiar of the 12 signs of the Zodiac cycle. Mickey Rourke made this Year famous.
Snake 蛇 (hebi) --- Born 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965...People born in the year of the Snake are deep thinkers, speak very little and possess tremendous wisdom. They are fortunate in money matters and will always be able to obtain it. They are determined in what they do and hate to fail. Snake People should never travel on a plane with Samuel Jackson.
Horse 午 (uma) --- Born 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966...Horse People are skillful in paying compliments and talk too much. They are skillful with money and handle finances well. They are quick thinkers, wise and talented. Horse people anger easily and are very impatient. One of the more talkative Horse People would be Mr. Ed.
Sheep 羊 (hitsuji) --- Born 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967 Sheep People are elegant, highly accomplished in the arts, passionate about nature. At first glance, they seem to be better off than the people born in other years. They are deeply religious and passionate in whatever they do and believe in. Sheepish People should never wear Wolf's clothing.
Monkey 申 (saru) --- Born 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968...Monkey People are the erratic geniuses of the Zodiac cycle. They are clever and skillful in grand-scale operations and are smart when making financial deals. They are inventive, original and are able to solve the most difficult problems with ease. Monkey people often have a Majikal gift for music.
Rooster 酉 (tori) --- Born 2005, 1981, 1969...Rooster People born in the year of the Rooster are deep thinkers and are always busy and devoted to their work. Rooster people have a habit of speaking out directly whenever they have something on their minds. Rooster People should avoid cock fights.
Dog 戌 (inu) --- Born 2006, 1982, 1970, 1958...Dog People have all the fine qualities of human nature. They have a sense of duty and loyalty, they are extremely honest and always do their best in their relationship with other people. Dog people inspire confidence in others and know how to keep secrets. I am a Dog and all of the above is true except for the keeping of secrets. Tell me anything and it'll be on this blog within minutes.
Boar 猪 (inoshishi) --- Born 2007, 1983, 1971, 1959...People born in the year of the Boar are brave. They have tremendous inner strength which no one can overcome. They display great honesty. They are short-tempered, yet hate to quarrel or have arguments. They are affectionate and kind to their loved ones. Boar people should avoid talking to people for they are dull and witless. If you are a BOARing man this year you are a 年男 (toshi-otoko) and if a BOARing woman, you're a 年女 (toshi-onna).
The ancestor of the farmer's pig, the wild boar roams the forests of all of Japan, excluding Hokkaido. It was called 山鯨 (yamakujira = whale of the mountain forest) in the old days.
During the Edo period, people started eating the meat of wild boar and called it 牡丹 (botan = peony). The meat of deer was called 紅葉 (momiji = maple leaf)" and that of the horses was 桜 (sakura = cherry blossoms). In this way the pious Buddhists could pretend to eat as vegetarians.
牡丹鍋 (Botan-nabe) is a stewpot dish of wild boar's meat and vegetables in a broth. The thin slices of raw meat are beautifully arranged on a large plate in the shape of a peony flower. Boar's meat is highly nutritious, and remains soft even after a long boiling. Wild boar's meat becomes most fatty and tasty between November and February, the coldest period in a year.
猪突猛進 (Chototsu-moushin) means "to rush recklessly to one's goal without thinking (like a wild boar runs)."