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Although 2017 is the Year of the Fire Rooster, fire is not the only element destined to influence the next 12 months. Each of the 12 Chinese zodiac years is governed by one of five elements: wood, fire, earth, water and metal, resulting in 2017 taking the element of fire. According to the Five Elements Theory, however, each of the zodiac animals is also associated with an element. For the rooster, that element is metal. A rooster year, therefore, has long been associated with the fruits of metal such as jewelry and other decorative arts.

In celebration of metal’s symbolic role in 2017, The Japan Times speaks to three metalsmiths to uncover why the material has instilled in them such enthusiasm for their craft and how they are expressing it through their art.

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