Advisor for RENOVATION, REPAIR, REAL ESTATE and CONSTRUCTION for foreigners living in Japan

What’s ETO or JUNI SHI?

What’s the difference between ETO and JUNI SHI?

干支 [ETO] (えと) is the word for the Japanese zodiac signs which consist of  a combination of 十二支 [JYUNI -SHI] (じゅうにし) “twelve zodiac signs” and 十干 [JIKKAN] (じっかん) “ten zodiac signs”. 十二支 [JYUNI -SHI] (じゅうにし) make a circuit by 12 years.  十干 [JIKKAN] (じっかん) make a circuit by 10 years. Therefore they are combined in 60 patterns. These patterns are called ETO.

However in recent years, 干支 [ETO] (えと) is said to have become more commonly used to refer to 十二支 [JYUNI -SHI] (じゅうにし), as 五行思想 [GORYO SHISO] (ごぎょうしそう) and 十干 [JIKKAN] (じっかん) are no longer used in everyday life.

Most Japanese people know their own ETO of the year they were born. For  example, Japanese people often say

私の干支は亥です [WATASHI NO ETO WA INOSHISHI DESU] (わたしの えと は いのしし です) “I was born in the Year of Boar.”
今年の干支は、犬です。 [KOTOSHI NO ETO WA INU DESU] (ことしの えと は いぬ です) “This is the Year of the Dog in the Chinese astrology.”
今年の年男です。[KOTOSHI WA TOSHI OTOKO DESU] (ことしは とし おとこ です) “This year is my sign in the Chinese zodiac”.

Also, when designing 年賀状 [NENGAJO] (ねんがじょう) “New Year’s cards”, it is common practice to draw the animal of the year.

Principle of  十二支 [JYUNI -SHI] (じゅうにし)

According to a folk tale, the order of the twelve zodiac signs was decided by which animal gave its new year’s greetings to the God first. The twelve zodiac signs in Chinese astrology are represented by 12 animals.

1st year is the year of the [NE] (ね) = [NEZUMI] (ねずみ) – rat / mouse
Rats have a high fertility rate, and once they have a mating pair, they can multiply into dozens or hundreds of animals in no time. Therefore, they are often used as a symbol of fertility, and rats are associated with prosperity.

2nd year is the year of the 丑 [USHI] (うし) – ox
Cows have long been a partner in life rather than a food source. It was an indispensable animal in our lives, carrying heavy loads and plowing fields. The ox is a symbol of strength, tenacity, and sincerity.

3rd year is the year of the 寅 [TORA] (とら) – tiger
The tiger is a brave and courageous animal. It also has the meaning of decisiveness and resourcefulness.

4th year is the year of the 卯 [U] (う) = [USAGI] (うさぎ) – hare / rabbit
Rabbits have an image of docility and calmness. For this reason, it is a symbol of safety. It also has the meaning of leap and improvement due to its leaping ability.

5th year is the year of the 辰 [TATSU] (たつ) – dragon
Although it is the only imaginary creature, dragons have been a close motif in life in the East. In China, the dragon has been a symbol of power since ancient times, and Japan has been influenced by this. From this, the dragon has the connotation of power.

6th year is the year of the 巳 [MI] (み) = [HEBI] (へび) – serpent / snake
Because snakes grow by repeatedly shedding their skin, they have become a symbol of “eternity”, “life”, and “rebirth” in the world.

7th year is the year of the 午 [UMA] (うま) – horse
Horse, like oxen, was an important partner in life. It symbolizes good health and a good harvest.

8th year is the year of the 未 [HITSUJI] (ひつじ) – sheep
Sheep are animals that prefer to live in groups. Therefore, it is a symbol of family security.

9th year is the year of the 申 [SARU] (さる) – monkey
Monkeys are highly intelligent and have been believed to be messengers of God. Therefore, the monkey is an animal that symbolizes the wise man.

10th year is the year of the 酉 [TORI] (とり) – rooster / cock
The word “tori” means 取り込む [TORIKOMU] “to bring in”. It is treated as a symbol of prosperity in business. There is a festival called 酉の市 [TORI NO ICHI] (とりのいち) market  in many parts of Japan to promote business prosperity on the 酉の日[TORI NO HI] (とりのひ) “the day of Tori”.

11th year is the year of the 戌 [INU] (いぬ) – dog
Dogs, along with cows and horses, have been a part of our lives since ancient times. Dogs are particularly loyal to their masters, and are therefore a symbol of loyalty.

12th year is the year of the 亥 [I] (い) = [INOSHISHI] (いのしし) – boar
The meat of the wild boar has long been believed to be effective against all diseases and symbolizes good health. It also has an image of single-mindedness and passion.

Then it will be returned to the year of 子 [NE] (ね)  from the 13th year.

Principle of 十干 [JIKKAN] (じっかん)

The Chinese concept of 五行思想 [GORYO SHISO] (ごぎょうしそう) is based on the five elements of 木 wood, 火 fire, 土 earth, 金 metal, and 水 water, which are divided into two groups, 兄/陽 [E] and 弟/陰 [TO], to form a total of ten elements. The combinations of each element are as follows.

木の兄 [KI NO E] (きのえ)=甲 /  木の弟 [KI NO TO] (きのと) =乙
火の兄 [HI NO E] (ひのえ)=丙 / 火の弟[HI NO TO] (ひのと)=丁
土の兄 [TSUCHI NO E] (つちのえ)=戊 / 火土の弟=己 [TSUCHI NO TO] (つちのと)
金の兄 [KA NO E] (かのえ)=庚 / 火金の弟=辛 [KA NO TO] (かのと)
水の兄 [MIZU NO  E] (みずのえ)=壬 / 火水の弟=癸 [MIZU NO TO] (みずのと)

1st year is the year of 甲 [KO / KI NO E] (こう / き の え)
2nd year is the year of 乙 [OTSU / KI NO TO] (おつ / き の と)
3rd year is the year of 丙 [HEI / HI NO E] (へい / ひ の え)
4th year is the year of 丁 [TEI / HI NO TO] (てい / ひ の と)
5th year is the year of 戊 [BO / TSUCHI NO E] (ぼ / つち の え)
6th year is the year of 己 [KI / TSUCHI NO TO] (き / つち の と)
7th year is the year of 庚 [KO / KA NO E] (こう / か の え)
8th year is the year of 辛 [SHIN / KA NO TO] (しん / か の と)
9th year is the year of 壬 [JIN / MIZU NO E] (じん / みず の え)
10th year is the year of 癸 [ KI/ MIZU NO TO] (き / みず の と)
Then it will be returned to the year of 甲 [KO / KINOE] from the 11th year.


ETO chart of recent years

A.D. 十二支 干支
2009 うし [USHI] 己丑(つちのとうし)[TSUCHI NO TO USHI]
2010 とら [TORA] 庚寅(かのえとら)[KA NO E TORA]
2011 うさぎ [USAGI] 辛卯(かのとう)[KA NO TO  U]
2012 たつ [TATSU] 壬辰(みずのえたつ)[MIZU NO E TATSU]
2013 へび [HEBI] 癸巳(みずのとみ)[MIZU NO TO MI]
2014 うま [UMA] 甲午(きのえうま)[KI NO E UMA]
2015 ひつじ [HITSUJI] 乙未(きのとひつじ)[KI NO TO HITSUJI]
2016 さる [SARU] 丙申(ひのえさる)[HI NO E SARU]
2017 とり TORI] 丁酉(ひのととり)[HI NO TO TORI]
2018 いぬ [INU] 戊戌(つちのえいぬ)[TSUCHI NO E INU]
2019 いのしし [INOSHISHI] 己亥(つちのとい)[TSU CHI NO TO I]
2020 ねずみ [NEZUMI] 庚子(かのえね)[KA NO E NE]
2021 うし [USHI] 辛丑(かのとうし)[KA NO TO USHI]
2022 とら [TORA] 壬寅(みずのえとら)[MIZU NO E TORA]
2023 うさぎ [USAGI] 癸卯(みずのとう)[MIZU NO TO U]
2024 たつ [TATSU] 甲辰(きのえたつ)[KI NO E TATSU]
2025 へび [HEBI] 乙未(きのとひつじ)[KI NO TO HITSUJI]
2026 うま [UMA] 丙午(ひのえうま)[HI NO E UMA]
2027 ひつじ [HITSUJI] 丁未(ひのとひつじ)[HI NO TO HITSUJI]
2028 さる [SARU] 戊申(つちのえさる)[TSUCHI NO E SARU]
2029 とり TORI] 己酉(つちのととり)[TSUCHI NO TO TORI]