• Masashi

Samurai facing west / 西向く侍


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.









「西向く侍」 (二、四、六、九、十一。十一は「士(さむらい)」に変換)


* 白黒写真は公共財産

* チューリップの画像: 父

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