Fantastic Symbols on Japanese Calendars

Mar 20, 2017

Actually it is a bit difficult even for Japanese people, especially for young generations. If you have Japanese calendar I want you to focus on it, there should be small Chinese characters for each date. Some are in black letters and some are in red. Have you noticed that before? It is the custom what western culture doesn’t have. This is called “六曜 Rokuyoh”



This is a kind of week introduced from China 7 centuries ago. There are only 6 days in one week, and that’s why it is called Rokuyoh (六 [roku] means six and 曜 [yoh] means week).



It is said Rokuyoh was invented in China but when and who invented is sadly unclear. Before western solar calendar was introduced, lunar calendar was common in east Asian countries. For lunar calendar there is 30 days and 5 weeks in each month, that is why only 6 days in Rokuyoh. So you may think that if it is just a week with six days why Japanese calendar still keeps it on the calendar even it doesn’t suit to the current solar calendar. It’s because Rokuyoh has specific fortune meaning for each day and that still deeply affecting Japanese people’s daily life. This is the unique point of Rokuyoh.


Then let me explain about every 6 meanings of Rokuyoh.

1. 先勝 [sensho]

Sensho means “If something did early, it’s good”. Generally good luck on morning and bad luck from 2 pm to 6 pm. So if you see Sensho on calendar important tasks should be done in a morning. Don’t ask your girlfriend out in the afternoon.


2. 友引 [tomobiki]

Tomobiki literally means “drag one’s, friend”. So pious people don’t hold a funeral on this day. Nobody wants to be dragged by his or her dead friend. Tomobiki also means “draw each other” so any games or projects remain same. If you have any project with the not good condition, you should change the plan or stop that project. On the contrary, if your project is in good condition, you should keep going.


3. 先負 [senbu]

Senbu has the opposite meaning of Sensho. Morning with bad luck and afternoon with good luck. And Senbu also has the meaning with better to keep calm without any game. If you like gambles such as horse race or pachinko you should keep it in your mind about Senbu.


4. 仏滅 [butsumetsu]

Butsumetsu is the worst day in Rokuyoh. Bad luck for the whole day, you should be temperate for anything. But there’s one good thing with Butsumetsu, “If you start something on this day, it’s the best in every six days.” So Butsumetsu is the day anything dies to born again.


5. 大安 [taian]

Taian means “big peace”, the best day in Rokuyoh without any bad luck. Most of the people make wedding ceremony scheduled on this day. And Taian often shown with red letters.


6. 赤口 [shacku]

Shacku is a second worst day in Rokuyoh. You have good luck only during 11 am to 1 pm, 赤 [shaku] means red, so sometimes it is associated with the color of fire or blood, so people say be careful of fire and cutlery. In my opinion, it’s better for you to eat outside on Shacku day if you eat outside you can avoid the risk to cook with fire and knives. So Shacku can be said like “the temperate day with good lunch time”.



That’s all about a current Rokuyoh traditional fortune in Japan.


By knowing this culture you can enjoy daily life in Japan more than before, and you can be like Japanese more than Today’s Japanese.


Rokuyoh has changed and developed to update for each generation little by little since it was introduced all the way from China.


But nowadays most of the young Japanese people don’t know about this, but for me, this is also nice culture to inherit to next generations. To be introduced to a foreigner living in Japan, it’s gonna be a good chance for Japanese old tradition to survive in this modern society.




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