Fortunetelling Craze Blends Tradition and Humor
December 2, 1999
Which of these animals do you think you are? (Nora/Kiriko Kubo/Shogakukan/Ships)
"It reads, 'You have an aggressive personality; that's because you're a tiger.'" "Sounds right. And it's because you're a fawn that you're everyone's pet." Conversations like this have lately become common among young people in Japan. They are talking about zoological fortunetelling--a variation on the better-known astrological horoscope--which has recently exploded in popularity. According to this system, each individual's birth date is associated with one of 12 animals representing one's personality. For instance, people classified as a monkey are said to possess innocence and popularity, while "raccoon dogs" tend to navigate their way through life smoothly. In addition, one can identify which animal types are most compatible with one's own, as well as the chances of success with a romantic partner. While zoological fortunetelling is especially popular with women in their twenties, people of all ages are becoming hooked on the fad.
A Clever Mix
In the series the 12 animals--the lion, cheetah, pegasus, elephant, monkey, wolf, koala, tiger, black panther, sheep, raccoon dog, and fawn--are depicted as comical characters by popular cartoonist Kiriko Kubo. Their cute portrayal is one major reason for the popularity of this new fortunetelling method. A paperback volume was published on May 11, 1999, and sold over 1.5 million copies in the first six months, rising to the top of the bestseller list. One major book retailer predicts that the volume will have been the store's "bestselling paperback of the year."
Animal Village Online
This association of personality and fortune with cute, comical animals also offers an amusing source of conversation. It can be funny, for instance, when someone's animal turns out to be a ridiculous match for his or her appearance. Zoological fortunetelling looks set to establish itself as a vital communication tool among young people.
Some Famous People's Animal Classifications
Daisuke Matsuzaka (pro baseball pitcher; Pacific League's 1999 rookie of the year): sheep. Cool, objective, and makes keen, accurate remarks. Quick to look after the needs of others. Dislikes being alone.
Michael Jordan (NBA superstar): pegasus. A genius with a freewheeling sensitivity. Hates to be constrained. An individual of many mysteries.
Bill Clinton (president of the United States): raccoon dog. Good at giving favorable responses; likable attitude, despite being absent-minded. Deft at navigating through life.
Keizo Obuchi (prime minister of Japan): sheep. Upright. Adept at forming personal connections and gathering information. Has an unexpectly stubborn side.
Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.