|The Year of the Wild Boar|
"Eto (formally called Jikkan Junishi)" refers to the Chinese zodiac symbols. Unlike the Western Zodiac which is divided into 12 months, the Asian Zodiac is divided into 12 years. Each year is named after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and boar. It is said to have been adopted in Japan in 604, during the reign of Empress Suiko.
People whose zodiacal sign corresponds to the year's sign (which means their age is a multiple of 12) are called "toshi-otoko (men)" or "toshi-onna (women)."
Like the astrological zodiac there are all sorts of things which influence individual people. The Japanese believe that people who are born in the same animal year share similar personality and character. People born in the year of the wild boar are brave and honest. Click here to check what year you were born in and what kind of personality your animal sign has.
The Japanese word for a wild boar is "inoshishi （猪）." This kanji character is used for "pig" in Chinese and the twelfth animal sign is "pig" in China.
The ancestor of the farmer's pig, the wild boar roams the forests of all of Japan, excluding Hokkaido. It was called "yamakujira (whale of the mountain forest)" in the old days.
During the Edo period, people started eating the meat of wild boar and called it "botan (peony)". The meat of deer was called "momiji (maple leaf)" and that of the horses was "sakura (cherry blossoms)." In this way the pious Buddhists could pretend to eat as vegetarians.
Botan-nabe （牡丹鍋）is a stewpot dish of wild boar's meat and vegetables in a broth. The thin slices of raw meat are beautifully arranged on a large plate in the shape of a peony flower, see below. Boar's meat is highly nutritious, and remains soft even after a long boiling. Wild boar's meat becomes most fatty and tasty between November and February, the coldest period in a year.
A baby boar is called "uribou (melon boy)" because of its shape and the stripes that resemble a melon.
Compared to the other zodiac animals such as the snake (hebi), horse (uma), rooster (niwatori) or dog (inu), there are not many expressions including the wild boar. "Chototsu-moushin （猪突猛進）" is one of the Yoji-jukugo which means "to rush recklessly to one's goal without thinking (like a wild boar runs)."