ルビつき和訳は英文の後にあります。/ The Japanese translation with Ruby is below the English post.



1. Three motifs on the towel
2. Why is it good to see these as the first dream of the year?
3. Another meaning of “nasu (eggplant)”
4. Do this when you saw a bad dream

1. Three motifs on the towel

We would like to send a towel from Japan to an American friend  who has interest in Japan.

An image of things to be seen in the first dream of the year
[Click to enlarge / 画像をクリックすると拡大します] A towel with Mt. Fuji, a hawk, and an eggplant

Using this small gift, we can also tell a thing or two about Japan, to him and to you who are reading this post.

Do you know the message we want to send? 

The motifs on the towel are three; Mount Fuji, a hawk, and an eggplant. 

There is a saying: “Ichi Fuji, ni taka, san nasubi (No. 1 Fuji, No. 2 hawk and No. 3 eggplant)” with a rhythm like a part of a haiku. Seven moras (i-chi-fu-ji-ni-ta-ka) and five moras (sa-n-na-su-bi), right?

You have good luck during the year if you see one of these three things in your dream while you sleep on the new year’s first night. We don’t know exactly when the “first night of the year” is. Some say the night of December 31st, others January 1st, still others January 2nd. It doesn’t matter whether you use the Gregorian calendar or the lunar calendar, but of course originally they used the lunar one.

Anyway, the dream is called hatsu-yume or the first dream of the year. 

So the meaning of the present is “Wish you see a good hatsuyume, and have good luck for next year!”

2. Why is it good to see these as the first dream of the year?

There are a few theories on the origin of these strange items for hatsuyume.

Because it’s said this saying has been around since early Edo Era, it seems natural to believe it has something to do with Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), the first Shogun from the Tokugawa family. 

Arguably a man known to be one of the luckiest in Japanese history, Ieyasu was born only the son of a small-scale daimyo in Suruga (today’s Shizuoka Prefecture).

After persevering many years of hardship, he gradually gained power and influence, eventually overpowered all other daimyo‘s and established the Tokugawa Shogunate. 

Thus he ended the era of countless wars and armed conflicts. The period when Japan was governed by Shoguns from the Tokugawa family is called the Edo Era (1603-1867). 

Returning to the three lucky items in dreaming: Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain and a symbol of Japan, is partially located in Suruga, Ieyasu’s homeland; Ieyasu loved falconry in the fields of Suruga; and he liked to eat early eggplants. It may have been commoner’s wishes to have a little luck like Ieyasu.

3. Another meaning of “Nasu (eggplant)”

By the way, “nasu (spelled 茄子 in Chinese characters)” is the word for the eggplant. Apart from the first dream of the year, an eggplant is a sign of good luck since the word is a homonym of the verb “nasu (usually spelled 成す)”, which means “to accomplish/achieve [a project/a dream]”.

4. Do this when you saw a bad dream

If you do have a very bad dream, first of the year or not, don’t worry. 

Just say:

An imaginary tapir carved on a kibana at Nikko Toshogu Shrine / 日光東照宮の木鼻に彫られた獏 (Image from shinshizo.com, http://shinshizo.com/2013/01/初夢と宝船絵と獏(バク)/)

“Baku-san, kono yume o agemasu! (Baku, I will give you this dream!)” 

“Baku (獏)” is a word for the actual animal called tapir, but it’s also the name of an imaginary Chinese animal. 

According to the legend, the baku has the body of a bear, the trunk of an elephant, eyes of a rhinoceros, the tail of a cow and legs of a tiger, and it eats nightmares. It shoos away epidemics, disasters, and evil spirits. 

Since it appears only in the peaceful time the baku is considered a lucky animal. Also because of that, it is often carved on kibana, the wooden nosings at the ends of penetrating tie beams in temples and shrines. 

The baku will be glad to take care of your bad dreams.

Now you are all ready.

We wish you very happy another year!


An imaginary tapir (right) has curly hair and an elephant doesn’t / バク(右)は巻き毛があり、象にはない


  1. みっつのモチーフ
  2. なぜこれらがきちなのか?
  3. 「ナス」のもうひとつの
  4. わるゆめてもだいじょう







はいのようなリズムで、「いちたかさん茄子なすび」といいます。モーラがななつ (い、ち、ふ、じ、に、た、か) といつつ (さ、ん、な、す、び) ですね?






ほんでもっとも幸運こううん人物じんぶつ一人ひとりともいわれる家康いえやすは、駿河するが (現在げんざい静岡県しずおかけん) のちいさなだいみょうむすとしてまれました。




3. 「ナス」のもうひとつの


4. わるゆめてもだいじょう







さあ、これでじゅん万端ばんたん です。


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