Posts Tagged ‘ Year of the Rabbit ’

The Rabbit’s Here.

 

2011: The Year of the Rabbit

兎年明けましておめでとうございます

The Rabbit comes from a famous 12th Century “Frolicking Animals Scroll” (鳥獣戯画).  The original now stays in the Tokyo National Museum, while a replica is housed at it’s home temple, Kyoto’s Kozan-ji Temple.

The scroll’s Rabbit is on his back, laughing uproariously.  A classic image.  I’ve taken the liberty to turn the image 90 degrees, which transforms the Laughing Rabbit into a Very Determined Rabbit.  See the attachment and see for yourself.  I’d like to believe that we can, indeed, Laugh at both pretensions and setbacks and frustrations the like, and be determined and resolute.

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Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit: 2011 (兎年)

= And for 2012… The Year of the Dragon  =

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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.

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

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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!



The Bunny Rabbit on the Moon. 兎兎、なにをみてはねる?

. . . Before we get down to business, let’s start with a 15-second Bunny Rabbit in the Moon sake commercial:

There.

Update (from September 2011):  more, lots more, bunny rabbits.

With only a 2% Christian population, there’s not a lot of widespread Easter celebrating that goes on in Japan, although several million Japanese Christians have been celebrating and contemplating the season and churches will, of course, be packed on Easter Sunday from Sapporo to Saitama and from Kanagawa to Kyoto to Kagoshima.

Not a lot of Easter Bunny goings on in Japan, comparatively speaking.  However, throughout the year, about once a month in fact, Japanese (and Chinese and Vietnamese and Koreans, virtually all East Asians…) think of bunny rabbits, or, more properly, one special bunny rabbit more than most Westerners.  That one, special bunny rabbit is, of course, the Rabbit on the Moon.  In Japanese the word for rabbit is “usagi” (うさぎ, or 兎) and when Japanese and other East Asia residents look up at a full moon, they don’t see a pockmarked man with a goofy smile staring (leering?) down at them, no, they see a cavorting rabbit.  How about you?

The children’s song, “Usagi,” is known to every Japanese like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is known to North Americans:

(Mr.) Rabbit, (Mr.) Rabbit, what you see when you jump?
The fifteenth night moon is not nearly enough.
Jump into the night and dance with the moon.
No time to sleep, the party is just starting!

Usagi usagi nani o mitehaneru?
juugoya no tsuki dake ja monotarinai
yoru ni tobidashite tsuki to odorou
nemurenai utage wa mada mada kore kara!

Here’s the tune, without lyrics (I’m looking for a YouTube with, say, a children’s choir singing it or something.  Will update if I find something like that).  Ah.  Found one.

Here’s another view, another take on the Rabbit on the Moon:

And here’s a rather comprehensive Wikipedia entry on the Rabbit on the Moon, for those who wish to explore this in detail.  As I was born in one of the Years of the Rabbit, I find this kind of cool.  Happy Easter.

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Very fun rabbity vid from Saitou Kazuyoshi (斉藤和義):


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“Happy New Year” = Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu

2013 UPDATE:  The YEAR of the SNAKE!

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Click Here for 2012 YEAR of the DRAGON info, background & trivia!

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Coming up:  2011.  The year of The Rabbit!

 

The Resolute Rabbit

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Happy New Year . . .

あけましておめでとうございます

Ah*ke*ma*shi*te    Oh*meh*de*toh    Goh*za*i*mas

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2 0 1 0 :     Y e a r   o f   t h e   T i g e r

Tiger. Kamine Zoo. Hitachi, Japan. April 2008.

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2010 is the Year of the Tiger, according to the ancient Chinese calendar (which runs in 12-year cycles).  2009 has been the year of the Bull, or Water Buffalo (plodding along, never giving up, persevering).  2011 will be the Year of the Rabbit (my year, thankyouverymuch).  But 2010 is for the Tiger:  active, self-assured and ready to strike at opportunities.  More on the Chinese/Japanese calendar below.  Here’s a nice, 2 min 10 sec video from Japan (titled): Year of the Tiger.  New Year’s Card.  How to Paint a Simple Tiger.”

Here’s a Happy New Year 2010 vid from Alien Eye, a Tokyo-based boutique marketing firm.  What I like about this 1 min 47 sec vid is that it pretty much captures “a day in the life” of anyone strolling the streets of Japan … ;o).

Stay tuned for updates on this page over the next several days and week.  Please consider joining others in signing-up (right-hand side of this page) so you’ll be notified by email of updates here on Japanese New Year Traditions, the Chinese/East Asian Zodiac, and other end-of-the-year/beginning-of-2010 information and esoterica.

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Japan has used the Gregorian Calendar since 1873,  5 years into the Meiji Restoration, but being a nation with close cultural, geographic and historical ties to and influences from China, the 12-year cycle Chinese calendar continues to hold great sway and influence in most Japanese hearts, at least from a standpoint of tradition and sentimentality.  Most Japanese New Year’s Cards  — Nengajo — (having gone into the mail by the millions and millions over the past few days in order that they be delivered on January 1st!) will feature a tiger motif.  Here’s an example:

Found at this website

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Otoshidama ( お年玉 )  is the Japanese custom (also in China and elsewhere in East Asia) where adults give children New Year’s envelopes containing money (bills only).  Japanese bills come in ¥1,000 (somewhat rare) ¥2,000, ¥5,000 and ¥10,000 increments, so children (depending on their age and relationship to the adult giver) can expect anywhere from ¥1,000-¥10,000 (around $11.00 to $110.00 given today’s exchange rate).  Envelopes are colorful and cartoony and cute.

Here’s how Kit-Kat (yes, that Kit-Kat) has gotten in on the otoshidama trade, combining a box of chocolate with an otoshidama envelope, suitable and intended for mailing from grandma to grandson/granddaughter  —  with, of course, a Year of the Tiger motif:

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お正月 O-Shogatsu

Shogatsu (or O-Shogatsu) are the amalgam of customs and celebrations that mark and are intertwined with celebrating the New Year in Japan.  Special foods eaten, temples visited, decorations made and gifts given all begin at 12:00 midnight on January 1, and continue for the next three (3) days.

Houses are cleaned and decorated in the days preceding O-Shogatsu.  Families walk or ride together (many at midnight, January 1) to their neighborhood Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines, businesses shut down, and Shonenkai (New Year’s Parties/Feasts) flourish.  Among the decorations are the front doors of homes and businesses, often sporting with pine (松 matsu, symbolizing deep-rooted strength), bamboo (竹  chiku, symbolizing the ability to bend with but overcome the winds of adversity) and plum fronds (梅  bai, symbolizing hope – plum being the first tree to blossom in the spring, with buds often bursting forth even through the late February snows).

Chion-in

In about three (3) hours (I write at about 8:30 a.m. U.S. Central Time), no less than 17 monks will take up the ropes attached to the log that strikes and rings great bell at Chion-in Temple in Kyoto and will swing that log into the 74 ton bell  108 times to ring-out the negative passions (greed, hate, envy…) of those who hear it and cleanse all for a fresh start for 2010.   It’s a tradition that’s gone on year after year for hundreds of years at Chion-in, which was established in the early 12th Century by a disciple of Hōnen, priest and founder of the Jodo (“Pure Land”) sect of Buddhism.  “The colossal main gate, the Sanmon, was built in 1619 and is the largest surviving structure of its kind in Japan.”  Here’s a rough vid I made of an, uh, event I ran into as I walked by the Chion-in Main Gate (Sanmon) about 45 days ago (also featured in another Front Page piece just below):

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