Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

December 29, 2006

The Year of the Boar

In case you were still wondering what zodiac animal will be called into service next year, just look at this shop window in the Otesuji Shopping Arcade in Fushimi (Momoyamagoryo St on the Keihan line in Kyoto) with its collection of eto: it is going to be the year of the boar!

Although the animal zodiac was devised in China, some subtle changes were made after it crossed over to Japan. The Chinese have a year of the pig in 2007, honoring their most delicious farm animal. The Japanese took Buddhism more seriously and never became great meat eaters until the Meiji period. So when this system was introduced in Japan there were wild pigs (boars) in the woods rather than domesticated pigs on the farmstead.

Therefore the character of the year is also different. The pig is shy, but short tempered and a typical family type. The boar is first and for all headstrong, storming on in the same direction even if he is wrong. We can only hope that the character of 2007 will not be like that...