2016 is already here, and for most people that means forgetting the past year’s problems and stress in order to start anew with fresh objectives. As it happens, in Japan this is a very special season full of Buddhist traditions and beliefs that merge with the progression of the Chinese calendar. This 2016, according to the calendar, is the “Sarudoshi” or “Year of the Monkey” and as it is believed those who were born during this particular year inherit certain characteristics of the “Monkey” Chinese zodiac house.
If you are curious about what it means to be born in the year of the monkey under the Chinese zodiac, read on!
The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 blocks (or houses) just like its western counterpart, but with the major difference being that each house has a time-length of one year instead of one month. This means that people born in the same year will share the same zodiac house. The full cycle in years for the 12 blocks corresponds to the equivalent of 12 years, meaning that one same zodiac house will repeat every 12 years. In order, the animals represented in the calendar are:
Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat/Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
In Japan, this calendar is known as Kanshi (干支), and the animals of the twelve houses are known as the Jyunni Shi (十二支). The origins of this calendar trace back to the Han Dynasty (202BC – 220AD). There are many stories and fables as to why each house was given an animal. Some people believe it comes from each house receiving this based on each animal’s character, and living habits.
Buddhism arrived in Japan around the 6th century AD, at that time the Japanese eagerly imported both the Buddhist teachings and the Chinese Zodiac calendar.
This calendar was officially adopted and utilized during the early 7th century AD until the 19th century were it was replaced by the Gregorian calendar. Noways, in most Japanese Buddhist temples, it is typical for visitors to be able to purchase amulets, carvings, or any other merchandise of the zodiac animal of the year.
It is said that people born in a certain animal year share some attributes of that animal, which in turn may influence personality traits, relationships with other people, professional life, romantic life, etc. So how about this year’s animal, the monkey?
The monkey (9th house in the zodiac) is believed to be a wise and curious animal, translating into “cleverness” and “curiosity” for those born in that year. It is said that people of the house of the Monkey tend to be inventive, flexible, imaginative, and decisive. Although these people are perfectionists in nature, they do not hesitate to utilize any “trick” to achieve their objectives (not necessarily meaning something positive or negative). These kinds of people also tend to be preoccupied with short-term gain, have natural quick-wittedness to understand situations and to make fast decisions, and above all are reliable and honest in their dealings.
There are many of websites out there that can explain more in detail about the characteristics of people born in particular animal years if you feel curious (like the sign of the monkey) to know more about your particular animal house. Also, I would also encourage you to take a quick visit to any Buddhist temple in your neighborhood and inquire your animal year. That way you might be able to get a more personalized explanation plus the chance to buy some nice souvenirs.
Whether you believe in such Buddhist practices or not, it is always recommended to know about the beliefs and traditions of the country you live in and if you happen to be in Japan, I guess you have an understanding of the importance of the Chinese Zodiac (especially during the year’s end). I wish all of those born under the year of the monkey all the best for your year. And for those not born in the Monkey Year (I am a snake), may you have good luck in 2016.