The Legend of Japan’s Fire Horse Women

by Sarah Thomasson


What is a Fire Horse Woman, you ask? In the Chinese Zodiac, each birth year is assigned an animal and an element. In fact, 2014 is the year of the horse. When the horse and the element of fire align, it is said to create the Fire Horse, also known as hinoeuma. In East Asian culture and astrology, women born in the year of the fire horse are considered unlucky and to have poor relations with men. According to, “a person born as a Fire Horse according to the Chinese horoscope will be extremely passionate. This Horse is likely to see many doomed love affairs in his or her lifetime. Falling in love quickly and passionately, when combined with a lack of ability to commit, will cause a lot of drama in the Fire Horse’s life.”

An article from Foreign Policy cites that the superstition is Fire Horse women’s marriages don’t last as long, their husbands and fathers die early, and they tend to go to school for a shorter period of time. In 1628, a fire horse woman was even held responsible for burning down a temple and almost burning the capital as well. Talk about a good old fashion witch hunt. 

A study was done in Japan in 2010 about these women and researchers from Osaka University and Japan’s Gender Equality Bureau found that “these women were in fact more likely to have been divorced than those close to them in age” (born just a few years before or after). It was also proven that these women made less money overall.

Japanese Birth Rates

The last year of the Fire Horse was 1966. During that year, many parents avoided having children either because they believed superstition about the Fire Horse year, or they were afraid their child would be discriminated against. The results were severe: the Japanese birth rate dropped 15 percent in order to avoid giving birth to a Fire Horse child, which is equal to 463,000 less births than the surrounding years. 

It’s obvious that since Japanese people knew about this superstition of the hinoeuma, the women who were in fact born in 1966 were probably heavily discriminated against throughout their entire lives. If it weren’t for this sad case of mass discrimination, all the passion and power of Fire Horse women would be pretty badass, and they’re probably excellent at lady vengeance. The next Fire Horse year is 2026, and hopefully some stigma surrounding these women will cease to exist by then. 

Image via and 


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