• Masashi

Samurai facing west / 西向く侍




【日本語版は英語版のあとです】


Back in 1863, the mission of samurais returned from western Europe and brought bulbs of tulips to their motherland.

Tulips are like symbols of westernization of Japan.

The person printed on today’s 10,000 bill was one of the members of the mission (Yukichi Fukuzawa, second from right in the black & white pic).

Things they saw and learned in Europe had a big impact on Japanese history and society.


Gregorian calendar was one of them.

On 9th of Novembe, 1872, the government announced that they would enforce western calendar within a month to set 3rd of December as New Year’s Day. People got so panicked.

Yukichi agreed to the new calendar and wrote book to explain difference between lunar and solar calendars, clock system in Europe to avoid social confusion. The book he just spent about 6 hours to complete its draft became a best seller.


Here is the euphony that became popular among Japanese in those days to remember short-days months : “Ni(2), Shi(4), Mu(6), Ku(9), Samurai(11)”, means “Samurai facing west”. Nishi means “west”, Muku is “to face”. Eleven in Chinese character is “十一”. When you change combination of the strokes, it becomes “士” representing “samurai”.

I also learned this phrase when I was little and still remember it.

Source of images

* Black and white picture is public domain.

* Tulips in gardens taken by my father.



1863年、西欧に向かった侍たちが、帰国時に持ち帰って来たのがチューリップの球根。

日本の西洋化の象徴とも言える花。

その使節団の中にいたのが、一万円札のあのお方。(白黒写真の右から二番目)

彼らが彼の地で学んだことは、その後の日本の歴史と社会に大きな影響を与えた。


暦もそのひとつ。

1872年11月9日、政府は急遽12月3日から太陽暦を導入し、その日を元日にすると発表。

新暦を推進する福沢諭吉は、世間が混乱しないよう太陰暦と太陽暦の違いやヨーロッパの時計などについて解説した本を出版。わずか6時間で書き上げたと言われる本は、大ベストセラーに。


当時、小の月を覚えるために流行った語呂は、自分も幼い頃に教わった。

「西向く侍」 (二、四、六、九、十一。十一は「士(さむらい)」に変換)


画像出典

* 白黒写真は公共財産

* チューリップの画像: 父

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