#1 Best Guide: Zodiac In Japanese

Japanese zodiac Ling app

Have you ever wondered about the Japanese zodiac? Nowadays, there’s lots of curiosity surrounding the mystical and spiritual facts about the zodiac. The zodiac in Japanese is known as juunishi (十二支) and is deeply tied to the nation’s culture and traditions, especially during the super important oshogatsu (お正月), or New Year, celebrations.

The zodiac is regarded differently between western culture, Japanese culture, and the Chinese zodiac. In this post, we’ll go through the zodiac as it is thought of in Japan. If you want to know more about the Japanese zodiac signs and then dissect the personalities of your friends and families, then keep reading!

And while we are at it, here’s a great tip for you to get the most out of learning about the Japanese zodiac: learn Japanese too!

Japanese Zodiac: An Overview

In the West, the zodiac revolves around a 12-month calendar cycle where each month (generally because the zodiacs span a range of dates rather than a strict month) has its own zodiac sign. For instance, there’s Pisces for March, Sagittarius for November, and Virgo for September. Each of these Western astrological zodiac signs has its own distinct symbol.

The Japanese zodiac refers to a 12-year time span, with each year represented by a different animal. This zodiac system, called eto (干支), resembles the Chinese zodiacs, but there are differences between the two. For example, the Japanese zodiac uses a wild boar to represent people born in certain years, while the Chinese zodiac uses a pig.

The eto system became commonplace in Japan around the fourth and fifth centuries and has since become a huge part of Japanese culture. In many Asian traditions, the zodiac weaves a tale around the Jade emperor and this tells the sequence of all 12 signs of the zodiac animals, which we’ll go into now!

Porcelain cat figure

Japanese Zodiac Animals

A Japanese zodiac sign comes down to, you guessed it, animals! All the animals in the Japanese zodiac carry their own unique meanings and symbolism. According to Japanese wisdom, the zodiac under which people are born greatly influences the shape of their lives.

Let’s take a look at each zodiac animal. There are 12 of them in this order: Rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.

Rat – Mezumi (ねずみ)

The rat earns the honor of being the first zodiac animal up in the list. This year is characterized by intelligence, as rats represent strategic thinking, ambition and charm.

As the first animal, rats are thought of in a positive light. They are said to have great determination to see through a task all the way to the end. They prioritize smart strategies that help them lead with abilities other people can’t help but admire since they are often well-liked. They are incredibly focused with quick decision-making.

Years of the Rat: 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, and 2020.

Ox – Ushi (牛)

The Year of the Ox represents hard work, diligence, and trustworthiness. Ox-year born people are at the heart of their communities, offering systematic methods. They have a deep sense of responsibility rooted in patience.

The ox has played an important role in Japanese agriculture, like rice farming, which contributes to a lot of its attributes. Just like farming requires great patience to reap its rewards, this sign values stability and working dutifully on something in order to harvest the fruit that determination will bear in the future.

Years of the Ox: 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, and 2021.

Tiger – Tora (虎)

To be born in the year of the tiger means to be a force of nature. This sign is said to possess fantastic strength and dynamic energy that propels their sense of adventure.

If your Japanese birth year falls under this sign, your charisma draws people to you with a magnetic charm. Well-liked by their peers, these people often find themselves in positions of influence and authority. They are brave individuals with an unwavering sense of justice that motivates them to always stand up for what they believe in. The tora-born are fresh thinkers, but they can develop a spicy attitude at times and be the impatient type!

Years of the Tiger: 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, and 2022.

Rabbit – Usagi (うさぎ)

In the fourth spot of the zodiac is the graceful and gentle rabbit. This sign is a symbol of peace and diplomacy, often considered as the most fortunate of the years.

These signs are considered wise with a calmness that is unmatched by the other signs. They are smooth-talkers but can also be quite reserved. These people take on situations with thoughtfulness and read social cues with ease. They are wonderful with building strong relationships and have a sharp intellect for giving great advice. 

Years of the Rabbit: 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, and 2023.

Dragon – Ryū (龍)

The dragon is a great, mythical creature in Japanese folklore. It is an icon in Asian culture, so this year deserves its characteristics of fantastic strength, energy and grandeur that all who are around a dragon-born can definitely feel.

The dragon sign is brave and excitable, though they can be short-tempered and stubborn. Their confidence propels them into the limelight to be the center of attention and tackle any challenges in their way with out-of-the-box thinking. They are incredibly introspective and seek deeper truths.

Years of the Dragon: 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, and 2024.

Snake – Hebi (蛇)

Don’t be scared of this year’s animal! The snake is represented by wisdom and mystery, often used as a muse for countless tales in Japanese culture.

The people born under a snake year are said to speak very little, but when they do, they depart great wisdom due to their perceptive and intuitive nature. These people are determined and hate to fail, so you can count on them to brilliantly solve problems. Due to their smartness and the ability to see the patterns that others overlook, people often look to them for valuable advice.

Years of the Snake: 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, and 2025.

Horse – Uma (馬)

The horse year is symbolized by freedom. Just picture a galloping horse running through a grassy meadow! The seventh animal of the zodiac signs is all about action and living fast-paced with a free-spirited soul.

Horse people are said to be big yappers with a contagious energy that infects others. Their vivacious spirit greatly feeds into their habit of paying compliments to people. Horse-born folks are not shy and are usually the life of the party, thriving in social situations. They are deep thinkers and enjoy the thrill of adventure.

Years of the Horse: 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, and 2026.

Sheep – Hitsuji (羊)

This year is characterized by the sheep’s tranquility and beauty, just like the world of art that consumes this sign’s soul.

Sheep-born people are incredibly elegant, seeing art everywhere they look. They’re imaginative, compassionate, and creative, of course! They adore nature and you can often find them in touch with nature, perhaps sketching some swampy marsh in the distance to a sparkling azure lake since they are capable of transforming the mundane into the extraordinary.

More on the sheep says that they are well respected and passionate, which is great for forming relationships. They are deeply sensitive individuals and, for that reason, are usually someone’s greatest confidante.

Years of the Sheep: 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, and 2027.

Monkey – Saru ()

People born in this year, the ninth zodiac sign, are said to be innovators. They are lauded for being nothing short of geniuses, bursting with tons of natural skill made for problem-solving. Sounds just like the attributes of this clever animal!

Unlike an actual monkey though, these people are incredible at tackling financial matters. They are also curious, competitive, and possess the great ability to adapt which help them be quick when making huge decisions. The next time you need help with money matters, it would be smart to have a monkey-born person deal with your finances.

Years of the Monkey: 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, and 2028.

Rooster – Tori (オンドリ)

The rooster is in the 10th place of the zodiac signs. Just like this animal perches on a country fence and crows to the sky to usher in a new day, this year symbolizes the arrival of a new dawn and fresh beginnings.

Roosters are hard workers. They are always busy and devoted to their work. These people are meticulous, always willing to go above and beyond, and if they fall short of their goals, they become deeply disappointed in themselves, so they are greatly reliable people to depend on. They value truth and speaking candidly above all, so you will frequently encounter rooster-borns saying what’s on their minds.

Years of the Rooster: 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029.

Dog – Inu (犬)

The dog is regarded as man’s best friend through a strictly loyal nature, which represents the Year of the Dog perfectly! This year is symbolized by trustworthiness, justice, and duty.

Dog people are known for being extremely fixed in place with their sense of morality. Their honest nature is key to how they maintain good relationships with other people. They are calm and intuitive, listening to their gut a lot of the time. They make excellent teammates as their fierce protectiveness puts their loved ones first.

Years of the Dog: 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, and 2030.

Boar – Inoshishi (猪)

The boar sits at the caboose of the zodiac as the 12th and final sign in the Japanese zodiac. Those born in the Year of the Boar symbolize courage, resilience, and tenacity. 

A person born under a boar year is said to be brave with a tremendous inner strength that no one can break. They stress upon great honesty and are super responsible. Watch out! Bear-born people can also have a short temper, though they hate arguing. They emphasize showing affection to their loved ones and form deep bonds with them.

Years of the Boar: 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, and 2031.

Constellation - Japanese zodiac Ling app

Japanese Horoscopes

The zodiac signs are an integral part of the fabric of Japanese life. More than just symbols, Japanese people look to them as guides that offer a peek into character traits and personalities. Originating from the Chinese zodiac, the Japanese horoscope has its own charm, offering its own set of beliefs.

In Japan, cultural practices are molded around the zodiac. Some years on the calendar are deemed lucky and unlucky, which greatly affects when events (like weddings) are held. A lot of Japanese art, like pottery and paintings, feature zodiac signs. No matter where you look in Japan, the influence of the zodiac runs deep!

Lunar Year

For festivals in Japan, like the one celebrating the Lunar New Year, is totally zodiac-centric! Each year, a specific animal is honored according to what the calendar says. The zodiac cycle runs all the way through in twelve years, one for all of the twelve signs. 

In the streets, this animal is what brings the celebrations to life – you’ll see it everywhere! In parades, honored with dances and rituals, and printed on Japanese souvenirs like masks and lanterns. The animals of the zodiac are more than just animals, they are important symbols of the celestial sphere.

Words Related To The Zodiac In Japanese

We’ve gone through a lot of information about the zodiac! What if you want to impress your friends by telling them what sign they were born in and think it’ll sound cooler if you told them in Japanese? Then take a look at the table below for a cheat sheet on all the Japanese zodiac signs and other helpful words related to zodiac, as well as how to pronounce them.

New Yearお正月Oshogatsu
Monkey 猿Saru
What’s your Japanese zodiac sign?干支は何ですか ?Eto wa nan desu ka?

Worried about not being able to pronounce these words? You can learn to pronounce Japanese words in our other blog post; it goes over a nifty bunch of tips and tricks for how to rock that pronunciation.

Learn Japanese With Ling

Here we are at the end of the post, and you’ve learned all about the 12 signs of the zodiac in Japanese, with each zodiac animal and the years they correspond to. In Japan, knowing zodiac signs is just part of daily life. They are interesting and can be a fun way to identify traits in someone!

Japanese zodiac signs are cool to learn about, but if you want to learn more about Japanese culture, you can check out a bunch of posts like this one on the Japanese Ling blog.

Here’s another thing you can do on Ling: learn Japanese! The Ling app is available for you to explore tons of languages, including Japanese and Eastern European languages. You can get started learning them today for free by downloading the app from the App Store or Play Store!

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