Teach Yourself Japanese
Message Board


Subject: Re: 子年
From: TAKASUGI Shinji (tssf.airnet.ne.jp)
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2002 14:25:37 GMT
References: 1, 2


See a message of mine for the pronunciations of 十二支 (じゅうにし), the twelve characters of the Chinese zodiac, which are sometimes translated as earthly branches.

十二支 appeared about 3500 years ago. They were probably the names of the twelve months of the year first, and used also for days and years later. They were associated with the twelve animals about 2000 years ago, according to some historians. The first year of the Chinese zodiac, later called the year of the rat, is always written as 子, not 鼠, because the former didn't mean the rat first time.

十干 (じっかん), the ten characters of the Chinese astrology, which are sometimes translated as heavenly stems, are as old as 十二支. Ancient Chinese people believed that there were ten suns, each of which appeared once every ten days. 十干 were probably the names of the ten days, and used also for months and years later. We still commonly use the word (じゅん), which means ten days, as in 上旬 (じょうじゅん), 中旬 (ちゅうじゅん), and 下旬 (げじゅん). They are now associated with 陰陽 (いんよう), the yin-yang dualism, and 五行 (ごぎょう), the Chinese five elements theory, as follows:

OrderSymbolPronunciationYin-YangElement
MandarinJapanese
OnKun
1jiăkinoeYangWood
2otsukinotoYin
3bĭngheihinoeYangFire
4dīngteihinotoYin
5botsuchinoeYangEarth
6kitsuchinotoYin
7gēngkanoeYangMetal
8xīnshinkanotoYin
9rénjinmizunoeYangWater
10guĭkimizunotoYin

The kun-readings are better than the on-readings to avoid homonyms.

Some of the associations of yin-yang are shown below:


Yang

Yin

Heaven

Earth

the Sun

the Moon

Day

Night

Light

Darkness

Movement

Stillness

Odd

Even

It is clear that yin is zero and yang is one in the binary system.

Some of the associations of 五行 are shown below:

Element
Wood

Fire

Earth

Metal

Water
Season
Spring

Summer
土用
Change of seasons

Autumn

Winter
Direction
East

South
中央
Center
西
West

North
Color
Blue

Red

Yellow

White

Black
Taste
Sour

Bitter

Sweet

Hot

Salt
Organ
Liver

Heart

Spleen

Lung

Kidney
Planet歳星
(木星)
Jupiter

(火星)
Mars
鎮星
(土星)
Saturn
太白
(金星)
Venus
辰星
(水星)
Mercury
Sense
Sight

Sound

Smell

Taste

Touch
Finger無名指
Ring finger
中指
Middle finger
食指
Index finger
拇指
Thumb
小指
Little finger




Reply to this message

Show this thread
Return to the index


Program Copyright(C) TAKASUGI Shinji (tssf.airnet.ne.jp)