Begin with a Crucian, End with a Crucian

A Japanese angler’s proverb: Begin with a crucian, end with a crucian. A sort of crucian carps, hera buna (Carassius cuvieri), is one of the most popular fishing target, especially for old men. When a boy begins fishing, he goes to a pond nearby and catches a crucian. After he grows up, he may go to the sea to fish black snappers (Acanthopagrus latus), or he may go to a mountain stream to find trouts (Oncorynchus, or Salvelinus). When he gets old, he goes to a pond to fish crucians again.

I am sixty years old this year. This age has a very special meaning in Japan. They say, at sixty the life is “reset”, and starts again from the beginning. One of twelve guardian animals are assigned to each year according to the ancient Chinese astrology. 2008 is a year of a mouse. I was born in 1948. It was also a year of a mouse. Moreover, five elements, like fire, metal, etc., are assigned. In every sixty years, the year has the same guardian animal with the same element. This is the reason why they think the calender is reset to the new. Then, as a child, I go to a river to fish crucians.

For non-Japanese readers, I will show the guardian animals of the year.

1996 mouse
1997 cow
1998 tiger
1999 rabbit
2000 dragon
2001 snake
2002 horse
2003 sheep
2004 monkey
2005 cock
2006 dog
2007 boar
2008 mouse
2009 cow
2010 tiger