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December 31, 2020

Year of the Ox: Save Us All (Ep. 67)

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The year 2021 is the Year of the Ox according to the animal zodiac. But what does that mean? On today’s show I’ll talk a little about the character of people born in this year, what to expect in 2021, and why the ox — who should have been the first animal in the zodiac lineup — got beaten by a rat.

I also have a super special announcement.

Year of the Ox 2021

We’re almost there and while I’m not entirely sure, I still have hope that we’ll make it to 2021. Or as some may know it: the Year of the Ox. More specifically, the year of the Yin Metal Ox. Which sounds extremely cool don’t you think?

A week before Christmas I debated taking time off since, well, Christmas, and the end of the year, followed by the beginning of the year which is celebrated lengthily here in Japan. But when I asked myself if I had a couple days where I could do whatever I wanted, what would I do? My answer was: I’d write and work on another podcast. So here I am.

In today’s show I’m going to talk a little about Ox years in general, the coming Ox year and why the curiously self aware Ox should have been first in the animal zodiac lineup, but lost to a rat.

Also, I’m excited to finally be able to tell you about a new podcast I’m starting. Yes, I’ve hinted about it here a little bit as I was lining up my various ducks. And while they’re not in lock step yet — nothing ever is, is it —  I can safely say the show is going to launch in January. Who what where when why how? You ask. All those questions and more I’ll answer in like, twenty seconds.

Hey hey, I hope this last episode in 2020 finds you safe and well and looking forward to the upcoming year. I know I am. Not that I expect everything to magically get better. I don’t. But I am looking forward to 2021 and let me tell you one big reason why.

I’m starting a new podcast. Okay, so this is what happened. During these four years and 67 episodes of my darling Uncanny Japan, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to get to talk with and hear from quite a few of you. And through all of that, I think I’ve stumbled across a mild, some might say lame, superpower.

That is people tend to get sleepy listening to me talk. Interesting. I mean, I literally have walked into a room where my audio guy, Rich Pav, was sitting in front of the computer, doing the sound for one of the shows, head back, snoring, sound asleep. And truth is even I have found myself dozing off listening to an episode while doing the first round edits, so there might just be something there. Not a superpower, you say. Well, you’re right. Not yet.

But, add to that the fact that I love writing, reading, and discovering great stories. I’ve also got on my team an amazing audio technician, Rich Pav; and a super talented sound and music guy, Julyan Ray, add to that one more ingredient, people are really stressed out and anxious these days. I know I am. So after realizing that, my brilliant idea clobbered me. How about making a high quality, magical with headphones, immersive, story telling show?

It’s called Soothing Stories Podcast and it’ll be me (or Rich Pav because he also has a really nice deep voice) reading classic tales, known and little known, that we love and want to share with you. Our goal is to help you our listeners disengage from the stresses of the day, the world, and escape to another place and time. Even if only for a little bit.

Soothing Stories Podcast will launch on January 27th, which just happens to be the date, four years ago, that I joined Patreon and stood up as a writer and podcast creator. And speaking of patreon, I’ll be putting the intro-less and ad-less versions of the new podcast up there for $5 and up tiers. So for all current and new patrons, you’ll still get all the regular Uncanny Japan benefits, the folktale and binaural recordings, plus on top of that this extra content.

This show right here, Uncanny Japan will continue unchanged. So no worries there.

And that’s what we’ve been working on and I’m really excited about.

Year of the Ox – When and Who

Okay, let’s get a little woo-woo and talk about cows. As per the animal zodiac or Chinese Zodiac, called eto in Japanese, the coming year, 2021, is the year of the Yin Metal Ox. And let me tell you about the year of the ox, but first, a quick brush up. Ox years are 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, or will be born in 2021.

And some famous people who were born in the year of the Ox: Barack Obama, Vincent Van Gogh, Pol Pot, Walt Disney, Malala, George Clooney, BB King, Malcolm X, Robert Capa, Peter Jackson, Louis Armstrong, and Princess Diana to name a few.

But really what does the list mean? Just hearing these well-known people’s names doesn’t give you any idea as to what kind of character or personality Year of the Ox people are believed to have. So this is what they say:

Year of the Ox Personality

Those born in the year of the ox are hard and determined workers. Persistent. They are patient, faithful, honest and will no doubt achieve their goals because of their consistent effort. However, Ox-Yeared People tend to work at their own pace, and can be stubborn.

Just like a cow that chews its cud, those born in this year think carefully about everything before acting. They won’t do anything unless they fully understand what’s involved and make sure they have all their steps in order to reach their goal thought out before they act. Ox People focus on what is real and concrete and do not get lost in illusions.

This also means that once they decide something they are not easily swayed by other people’s opinions and might not listen to advice. They like to stay low key, don’t ask for praise, and are not necessarily good communicators.

That said, they have gentle personalities, have good minds, are good listeners, and are very lovely to family and friends.

2021 – What Kind of Year?

Okay, that’s all about Ox Born People, what about 2021? It seems the idea here is that success will come to those who work hard–very, very hard. Also, the ox being the slowest of the zodiac animals, it means that in a year of the ox, you should proceed steadily, slowly, carefully, step by step.

Being the second animal in zodiac, the image is of the seed planted last year in the Year of the Rat, has just begun to sprout. You shouldn’t expect big results just yet, but keep building a firm foundation. Work diligently and steadfastly and quietly towards your goal or dream. Problems are solved with discipline.

It’s also a good year to focus on relationships, family, friends, partners. But I’m pretty sure that is good advice every year.

Story of Year of the Ox in Zodiac

Now, what’s this about the cow’s position in the zodiac. There are several versions of this story, but here’s one. A very, very long time ago the Jade Emperor decided he wanted 12 animals to be his guards and to be symbols for a 12 year cycle. He put out the word to all the animals in the world.

The day of the race, the cow or ox, knowing he was slow, decided to leave super early. As did the rat. Well, the rat made it to a river and stopped. He had no way to get across. He waited, trying to figure out how to cross when he spotted the ox hoofing it along. The rat jumped into his ear to hitch a ride across the water. The ox was cool with it though. He was a nice guy. Enjoying the ride, the rat stay on until they finally reached the Heavenly Gate. They had made it before all the other animals. But just before the ox stepped across, the rat crawled out of his ear and leapt forward, beating the Ox. So then the rat is the first animal of the zodiac, the ox second.

Anyway, it’s fun to imagine a metal yin ox representing 2021 to slowly plod in, pick us all up, and carry us to a better place. Of course, not without our hard work and discipline it seems.

So this is it. The last show of the year. I’ll talk to y’all next year, in two weeks.

And if you like stories in general, not necessarily Japan-related, and would like to relax to those, the Soothing Stories Podcast will be launching January 27th.

Remember to eat your soba or some other long, non chewy noodle on New Year’s Eve, and continue to stay safe and well. Here’s to a better, no, a great year of the Metal Ox.

Yoi otoshi wo! ( 良いお年を !)!


Intro and outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura.

Summer Ambient Piano by Rafael Krux
Link: https://filmmusic.io/song/5504-summer-ambient-piano-
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Chinese Dreams by MusicLFiles
Link: https://filmmusic.io/song/6318-chinese-dreams
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Star Brightness In Dark Space by MusicLFiles
Link: https://filmmusic.io/song/7210-star-brightness-in-dark-space
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

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About The Uncanny Japan Podcast

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from old Japan—strange superstitions, folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing.

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