Why are the days of the week in Japanese named after classical elements?

A random thought stumbled into my mind the other day when I realized that Sunday matched the Japanese word for Sunday is “日曜日”. The “日” part means “sun”. At first I thought it was just a coincidence, then I realized that Monday represented the moon, and in Japanese that’s “月曜日” and the “月” part means moon. Something is clearly going on here. Since the idea of seven days in a week doesn’t originate from Asia, the Japanese days of the week probably just followed western convention, which makes sense. Now when it comes to the English days of the week, the names were originally named by the Romans with the names of the sun, the moon, and the five known planets at the time [1].

Day of the week Latin word (English word)
Sunday Solis (sun)
Monday Lunae (moon)
Tuesday Martis (Mars)
Wednesday Mercurii (Mercury)
Thursday Jovis (Jupiter)
Friday Veneris (Venus)
Saturday Saturni (Saturn)

Now on the other side of the world, the Chinese and the Japanese gave names to these planets using their classical elements (the Chinese and Japanese names are the same). They gave the celestial bodies these names:

Celestial body Chinese/Japanese name Corresponding element
The sun
The moon
Mars 火星 Fire
Mercury 水星 Water
Jupiter 木星 Wood
Venus 金星 Gold
Saturn 土星 Earth/soil

So now, when the Japanese went to adopt the western calendar, they took the base meanings of the days of the weeks by their planets, and used their planet names in their place. So Sunday (from the sun) became “日曜日”, Monday (from the moon) became “月曜日” and so forth. Like this:

Celestial body English day of the week Japanese day of the week
Sun Sunday 日曜日
Moon Monday 月曜日
Mars Tuesday 火曜日
Mercury Wednesday 水曜日
Jupiter Thursday 木曜日
Venus Friday 金曜日
Saturn Saturday 土曜日

Cool, huh?

An Engineer’s Method of Buying Pants that Fit

The Problem

At every store, there is no consistency in the different kind of fits that exist in different stores.  Some stores have “straight fit”, “slim fit”, some even have somewhere in between.  Also, the “straight fit” in one store isn’t necessarily the same as another.    Generally speaking, using only the waist and length dimensions do not tell the whole story, and the dimensions in various parts of the pair of pants (e.g. the waist, length, around the knee, around the foot, etc.) are all different depending on the store.  There has to be a more efficient way find a pair that fits well.  My method minimizes the amount of pants that have to be tried on.

The Solution

My solution basically involves measuring out an existing pair of pants that already fit in different places and measuring the same locations on pants that I am considering to buy.  So the caveat here is that, there has to be an existing reference to compare to (e.g. an existing pair of pants that fit well).

I typically measure out the circumference of the pants at these spots and compare them with the pants that I already own

  • Around the knee
  • Around the foot

I don’t bother using a tape measure, and instead I just stretch out my thumb and pinky as a measuring tool to get a rough estimate.

For me, the waist and length have always worked well for me consistently even between stores, so I just use the same waist and length numbers everywhere.

When I find a pair that works well after this comparison, then I try on the pants.  This helps eliminate pants that don’t fit quickly and doesn’t require knowing the difference between “slim”, “straight” etc.  In a way, I’ve essentially added another two numbers to look at before trying on a pair of pants.

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 80,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 81,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Cool On-Hold Music

Pretty much every big company will put you on hold when you need to reach their support line or something.  Every time I call one, whether it’s about my credit card, internet service or whatever, they’ve put me on hold.  Being on hold is fine and all, but what I have a problem with is the music.  WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO BAD?

Wow, I Haven’t Been Here in a While

Now that my finals are over, maybe I’ll update this more often.

Portrait of an ISTJ

I just read a personality profile of an ISTJ, which happens to be my personality type, and that article basically pointed out so many things about me.  I’m going to quote a lot of things from the article I just read in a bit.

Full article here (

This is what the letters stand for:

I – Introvert
S – Sensing
T – Thinking
J – Judgment

Quote #1

As an ISTJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in via your five senses in a literal, concrete fashion. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things rationally and logically.

That’s exactly what I do.  I have huge troubles with metaphors and anything abstract.
Quote #2

ISTJs tend to believe in laws and traditions, and expect the same from others. They’re not comfortable with breaking laws or going against the rules. If they are able to see a good reason for stepping outside of the established mode of doing things, the ISTJ will support that effort. However, ISTJs more often tend to believe that things should be done according to procedures and plans. If an ISTJ has not developed their Intuitive side sufficiently, they may become overly obsessed with structure, and insist on doing everything “by the book”.

I do not like breaking tradition because there was always a reason why they are set.  If I’m able to identify this reason and agree with it, I would be very comfortable living with those traditions.  It’s also true I like doing this by the book, but at the same time, I see a lot of things as situational, meaning that my actions are based on whats happening around me.

Quote #3

The ISTJ is extremely dependable on following through with things which he or she has promised. For this reason, they sometimes get more and more work piled on them. Because the ISTJ has such a strong sense of duty, they may have a difficult time saying “no” when they are given more work than they can reasonably handle. For this reason, the ISTJ often works long hours, and may be unwittingly taken advantage of.

Total truth.  I remember always agreeing to take on more work at my Co-op job if it was needed of me.  I also totally remember working on homework or other work for 15 hours straight.

Quote #4

Under stress, ISTJs may fall into “catastrophe mode”, where they see nothing but all of the possibilities of what could go wrong. They will berate themselves for things which they should have done differently, or duties which they failed to perform. They will lose their ability to see things calmly and reasonably, and will depress themselves with their visions of doom.

Totally, and that makes me a pessimist

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You

© 2017 Henry Poon's Blog

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑