Auspicious signs and omens in Japan

In ancient Japan, much in the same way as many ancient cultures, there were many methods and ideas about how to read the future and predict the onset of good or bad times.

With the widely varying seasons and natural disasters in Japan, for farming and fishing communities, predicting future weather conditions and phenomena was actually critical to the way of life.

One of the ways to do this was to observe the sky and try to predict what strange patterns in the clouds could mean.

In this interesting blog by Japanese teacher, Miki Oosawa, she talks about a recent weather pattern that had her wondering about these phenomena.

Read the blog in Japanese with Kanji readings and also without Kanji readings, to help you learn Japanese and study for the upcoming JLPT examinations. And also listen to the blog in the accompanying YouTube video to practice your Japanese listening skills.

An omen of things to come?









To listen to this blog, please watch our Youtube video.





An omen of things to come?

What can you see in the sky now? Do you look at it casually every day? There is never the same sky. Sometimes when you are not paying attention, some rare things appear.

This spring, it was hot and with few clouds in the sky and we had really nice weather. My father called me from the garden and when I went and looked up at the sky, there were some rainbow-colored clouds the likes of which I had never seen before. I watched the sky for a while, but in a few minutes the clouds had disappeared. I looked it up later, and I found that they are called “iridescent clouds” and I was happy to have discovered something new, but right away I also felt that what if its an omen for something to come. Actually, at that same time, there was a phenomenon of a “halo” or ring that appeared around the sun.

Now we understand the scientific principles behind these things, but I wonder what people in ancient times thought of these phenomena. If it were me, I would probably think that it was an omen of something about to happen, and would probably panic. When I saw these iridescent clouds I felt really excited, but I don't remember if something good or something bad actually happened after this.

前兆(ぜんちょう) a sign; omen

空(そら) sky

何気(なにげ)なく casually

気象条件(きしょうじょうけん) weather conditions

珍(めず)しい rare

現(あらわ)れます appear

虹色(にじいろ)の雲(くも) rainbow clouds

彩雲(さいうん) iridescent clouds

太陽(たいよう) sun

輪(わ) ring

科学的(かがくてき) scientific

原理(げんり) principle

ドキドキ feel exited; heart beat


While all of you may have a different goal, there is one common purpose that you all share, which is to use the Japanese language in order to achieve something. I would be really glad if by learning Japanese here at JOI with me, and with your peers we can help to influence your life – even a little.
When I was a child, I used to perform a musical instrument, and played various kinds of music including pop and jazz. I also love to look at old buildings like temples and shrines and so I often travel. In my class, I would like to introduce some of Japanese culture and the traditions, through learning Japanese, and also introduce some of the characteristics of Japanese people. Lets face our goals together and go for it !

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