Tora-Tora-Tora

Walking in Matsuzaka’s main street, the wind was blowing when I passed a shop that had the Tiger as a mascot. They were selling Japanese traditional sweets, something that is fading in Japan. I couldn’t help to notice the Tiger, a sign of many meanings. Despite being made from paper, look at the close resemblance, and how real its expression is, even when its made from paper.

The sacred tiger in Japanese culture. According to the story, Kashiwade (6th Century AD) took his wife and child to the shores of the Korean peninsula, Japanese territory. The sun had set, and in the darkness the child disappeared,grabbed by a tiger. The Japanese ambassador pursued the animal, and eventually slew it with his sword, carrying the skin back to Japan.

Until 1872,when they switched over to the Western calendar, the Japanese also celebrated New Year`s on the same day as the Chinese, which usually falls somewhere in late January or early February on the Gregorian Calendar. And, like the Chinese still do, they would greet the New Year at sun down instead of midnight as they do now.

Chinese zodiac, consists of twelve animals; the mouse, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig in that order. Before 1872, the Japanese used these twelve signs not only to represent a cycle of 12 years, but also the months, days and hours.

In fact the Japanese words for -am and pm- literally meant before and after the hour of the horse, which makes sense given horse was the principal means of transportation.

It was also said that the tiger about 4,000km, and then returns. That is why he tiger became an important lucky charm for soldiers going off to war. Pearl Harbour in December 1941 “TORA-TORA-TORA” which means “Tiger,Tiger,Tiger” expressing the strong desire to return home safely from this mission.

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Categories: Life Cycles

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