Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit: 2011 (兎年)

= And for 2012… The Year of the Dragon  =


Everyone’s visited a Chinese restaurant (talking about “Westernized” ones, outside of China) and spent time mulling those paper place mats showing the Chinese zodiac that feature the animals associated with this or that year.  The zodiac runs in 12-year cycles, taking 12 years to run the 12 corresponding animals (Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog . . .).  Ages ago the Japanese and Koreans embraced the Chinese Zodiac as their own.  2010 was the Year of the Tiger.  For those who born in 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, and so on 2010 was — at least in theory — a particularly auspicious year.  This year, 2011:  it’s Rabbit Time.

Determined Rabbit: Mangling the "Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga"

The rabbit above is turned 90 degrees from his original, rolling-on-his-back-laughing image from the famous Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga (Scroll of Frolicking Animals) from around the 12th Century.  Above is from a photo I took of an ad at Rub a Dub Reggae Bar in Kyoto in November 2009.   

The coming year, 2011, will be the Year of the Rabbit,  (兎年usagi nen)  the 4th year in the 12-year Chinese Zodiac.  I was born in 1963.  Thus, 2011 is supposed to be a particularly good year for me and all my various brother and sister Rabbit People around the world who were born in 1963 (1951, 1975, etc.).   We’ll see.


. . .  And to our Chinese Friends out there:  新 年 快 乐!


2010 Bounen-kai

Over the past week or so Bounen-kai (忘年会), Forget the (past) Year, parties have been transpiring throughout Japan.  Office workers, school teachers (administrators, school board officials, PTA heads), production plant line workers, college departments, wherever there has been a group of people working together, there’s likely been a bounen-kai celebrating making it through, or even celebrating, 2010.

2011 Shinnen-kai & the Year of the Rabbit

And, after January 1, a new round of parties will commence:  the Shinnen-kai (新年会), or New Year’s Parties.  Lots of food, lots of drink, lots of conviviality and optimistic toasts to 2011 (Note: in this post from last year I go into some depth about New Year’s Customs in Japan: Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu), the Year of the Rabbit.  We’re Moon Children, by the way.  That’s not a wolf thing in Asia, it’s a Rabbit thing.

“Bonus” –>  A Rabbit in the Moon commercial.

I’ll just list some of the better qualities of people born in Rabbit Years (’51, ’63, ’75, ’87, ’99).  You can do your own research to find our myriad (supposed) faults.  According to this site:

The Rabbit is the happiest sign of the Zodiac  –  gifted, nice to be with, discreet, refined, reserved, ambitious but not too much so, and virtuous in the bargain.  Nobody ignores Rabbits, for they are good company and know how to make the best of themselves. . .  The Rabbit is lucky — with brains and only a little hard labor, the Rabbit can go far. Rabbits seem to be born with an innate sagacity, a natural shrewdness which makes them streetwise when it comes to the affairs of the world. . .  He shines in trade, especially in some offbeat aspect of it like antiques, which permits him to capitalize on his good taste.  Politics, diplomacy and the law all offer the Rabbit equally good opportunities — provided always that he can live the tranquil life he craves within their orbit.

I like what this site says, well, some of what it says:

Quietly charismatic, thoughtful and calm, rabbits are admired for their tactful and considerate dealings with all who know them. As such, they are most often depended upon for their wise counsel, or as someone in which to put valued trust in a personal friendship or a business dealing.

One of the most cautious signs in the Chinese zodiac, they are the chess players who take their sweet time before making a move. Yet, they are also the ones most likely to win any intricate game of strategy!

This most obvious of rabbit personality traits also spills into their romantic dealings, and rabbits will not commit to any one person right away.

[but. . . ]Once they are settled down in a domestic relationship, however, no truer or more sweeter spouse is likely to be found.

In dealings with family and friendships, they can always be counted upon for a sympathetic ear or a gentle hand to hold.

What can I say?

Happy New Year.  明けましておめでとうございます!

  1. Thankyou for these insights, which are accurate for 1974s!
    Very pleasing blog design
    Kung Hey Fat choi! (please excuse bad pronounciation)

      • letsjapan
      • January 7th, 2011


      Well, ’74 — the Year of the Tiger — just wound-down (2010 was a Tiger Year). I won’t even go into that as I know a “Tiger Year” person or two! As for your last sentence, Thank you to your (Chinese) good wishes.

      Also, I see that you just subscribed to this site/blog. Thank you very much. I will begin regular posting again next week. Until then I hope you’ll explore the Galleries and read a few of the Stories (see the Menu atop any of the pages) and, certainly, go back through the past 18 or so months’ Front Page posts, through the archives, and enjoy some of those as well! Kind regards,


  2. I hope you will be setting out more insights for this year, I am snake, and I know they my not prosper, however last year was truly depressing, my knowledge is limited to Chinese in this field (for this excuse my hasty greeting), although I am an experienced western astrologer..I am very must interested in the influences of the hours on the organs of the body, as I believe this has significant import or medecine and self ministering.

    • letsjapan
    • January 8th, 2011

    Dear Andrea,

    Thanks for your comment. You’ve inspired me to do a Post (in weeks? within the next month or two?) on alternative / complementary healing/medicine in Japan, China & India. Maybe I’ll do a 3-Part Series: one post for each country. Thanks for the idea. I’ll certainly give you credit when I do it!

    All kind things,


  3. I’m tuned in for that!
    I include this link on my blog and would be happy to share the post you make as i is something I could find no info about, thankyou

    • letsjapan
    • January 8th, 2011

    Thanks so much, Andrea. I’ll be visiting and enjoying your site, too!

  1. January 2nd, 2011

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