Photo by Mujo

Japan’s Most Auspicious Days of 2020

In the United States and many other western countries, New Year’s Eve means staying up late with family or friends, counting down, and welcoming the new year to varying degrees of intoxication. Getting out of bed on January 1st, many are victim to the year’s first hangover.

We bid the holiday season farewell and get serious about our New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, and save money. And although many may be motivated, there’s a common heavy feeling that settles in as everyone goes back to work and school.

Many Japanese also fall victim to New Year’s hangovers and the blues of having to return to work. But on the bright side, the holidays extend a bit past January 1st for many, allowing everyone to enjoy traditions popular among old and young alike.

As the first rays of Reiwa 2 dawned upon Japan this year many of us visited local shrines to pray for health and prosperity. We enjoyed greasy fried fish, which I’d never seen at a Japanese food stand before, and sweet mochi skewers.

Photo by Mujo

Photo by Mujo

I went to Shimogamo Shrine this year and received a water fortune. When the slip of paper is soaked in water, it reveals predictions about this year’s travels, love life, work, money, health, and wishes. Here you can see many people bent over the water wetting their fortune slips.

Photo by Mujo

When soaked in the temple’s stream, my fortune revealed itself to be ‘daikichi’ 大吉, or excellent luck.

Photo by Mujo

In line with my own personal good luck, 2020 also holds some particularly auspicious days.

What is ‘Tenshanichi’?

According to the Japanese almanac, Tuesday, January 22 is 天赦日 ’Tenshanichi.’ This means it is an auspicious day to start a new endeavor. There are only a handful of these lucky days in a year. These are said to be great days for:

  • Marriage
  • Engagement
  • Proposal
  • Confessing one’s love to someone
  • Giving birth
  • Moving house
  • Starting a new job
  • Opening a business
  • Getting a new wallet
  • Started something you were hesitant about
  • Buying a lottery ticket
  • Planting seeds
  • Opening a bank account
  • Making an investment

January 22 is considered to be especially lucky because it overlaps with another especially fortuitous day known as 一粒万倍日 ‘Ichiryūmanbaibi.’ This phrase can be translated as “a single seed can eventually produce a great harvest,” or “even the smallest beginning can generate the greatest profit.” Literally it would translate as a day when one grain is multiplied 10,000-fold.

As such, people who want to make a great change or start something new should take advantage of this lucky day’s positive energy.

Auspicious Days of 2020

January 22 and June 20 are the only two days of 2020 when 天赦日 ‘Tenshanichi’ and 一粒万倍日 ‘Ichiryūmanbaibi’ overlap.

To review, the auspicious days of 2020 are:

  • January 22 (luck x 10,000)
  • February 5
  • April 5
  • June 20 (luck x 10,000)
  • September 2
  • November 1
  • November 17

You can try to make the best use of these days. Or if you forget, perhaps you’ll notice in retrospect that these days were especially lucky.

Why are these days considered lucky?

These select days are based on the Japanese calendar or almanac known as ‘koyomi’ 暦. According to this website dedicated to the Japanese almanac, many different factors such as yin and yang, the five elements, astrology, change of the seasons, etc., are calculated to determine which days are lucky.

Oka, a 49-year-old from Gunma told me ‘koyomi’ was forbidden in the past by the Imperial Court because they feared it was too superstitious and could be manipulated by people of “evil intent.”

Do Japanese believe in fortune-telling?

From みくじ ‘Mikuji,’ the paper fortune slips you can receive at shrines, to blood types differentiating personality types, Japanese culture includes many different forms of fortune-telling. Star sign horoscopes can be found in popular magazines and newspapers as well.

But to what degree do Japanese people place their faith in what some, like the Imperial Court, would call superstition?

Older people have more faith in the koyomi. Especially when deciding a wedding ceremony. On the other hand, younger generations are more familiar with horoscopes and maybe have a casual interest. I personally don’t really care about either.

Takayuki, 21, Hokkaido

My wife and I had our wedding day on anniversary of when we started dating. That was more important to us.

Kaz, 30, living in California

I looked up an auspicious day to turn in my wedding registration. And when I buy a lottery ticket, the attendant will tell me ‘Today is Ichiryūmanbaibi so you will be very lucky!’ as they hand over my ticket.

Chisato, Kanagawa

In much the same way many get excited when their daily horoscope says, “Be patient, for your true love will appear soon,” Chisato said her interest isn’t about belief as much as it gets her in a positive mindset.

If you are a believer of various fortune-telling methods, go ahead and make the best of this year’s auspicious days. In the case you find this all to be superstitious nonsense, surely you can at least appreciate some inevitable coincidences when things line up, for better or for worse.

By - Mujo.