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The Year of the Rat
Nezumi-doshi
Related Resources
Japanese Zodiac
The Year of the Snake
The Year of the Horse
The Year of the Sheep
The Year of the Rooster
The Year of the Dog
The Year of the Wild Boar
Game: Japanese Zodiac


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Chinese Zodiac

"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 rat are charming, honest and ambitious. Click here to check what year you were born in and what kind of personality your animal sign has.

The Japanese word for a rat is "nezumi (鼠)." The dark gray color is described as "nezumi-iro." The onomatopoeia for a mouse squeak is chuu-chuu.

Like the other zodiac animals such as the snake (hebi), horse (uma), rooster (tori) or dog (inu), there are many expressions including the word rat.

Taizan meidou shite
nezumi ippiki
大山鳴動して鼠一匹
The mountain has labored and brought forth a mouse.
Fukuro no nezumi
袋の鼠
A mouse in a trap.
Atama no kuroi nezumi
頭の黒い鼠
(Literally means,
"a black-headed rat.")
A snitcher, a thief in the family, an unfaithful servant
Kyuuso neko o kamu
窮鼠猫を噛む
(Literally means,
"A cornered rat bites the cat.")
A stag at bay is a dangerous foe. A baited cat may grow as fierce as a lion.
When left with no option, even someone weak can fight. Or, even a coward is capable of bravery.
Tada no nezumi dewa nai
ただの鼠ではない
Somebody who can't be off your guard, somebody who is not common
Nezumi ni hikareru
鼠に引かれる
Being at home alone.
Nezumi kabe o wasuru
Kabe nezumi o wasurezu
鼠壁を忘る 壁鼠を忘れず
The victim can not forget their grudge against the harm done.
Nezumi ga shio o hiku
鼠が塩をひく
A big task can be completed in small pieces.
Ie ni nezumi
kuni ni nusutto
家に鼠 国に盗人
Bad people exist everywhere.
Nezumi-zan
ねずみ算
Exponential progression
(multiplying like rats)
Nezumi-kou
ネズミ講
Pyramid scheme

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