Japanese Candlestick

What is a Japanese Candlestick?

While we briefly covered Japanese candlestick charting analysis in the previous lesson, we’ll now dig in a little and discuss them more in detail. Let’s do a quick review first.

Japanese Candlestick Trading

Back in the day when Godzilla was still a cute little lizard, the Japanese created their own old school version of technical analysis to trade rice. That’s right, rice.

A Westerner by the name of Steve Nison “discovered” this secret technique called “Japanese candlesticks”, learning it from a fellow Japanese broker. Steve researched, studied, lived, breathed, ate candlesticks, and began to write about it. Slowly, this secret technique grew in popularity in the 90’s. To make a long story short, without Steve Nison, candlestick charts might have remained a buried secret. Steve Nison is Mr. Candlestick.

Okay, so what the heck are Japanese candlesticks?

The best way to explain is by using a picture:

Japanese candlesticks can be used for any time frame, whether it be one day, one hour, 30-minutes – whatever you want! They are used to describe the price action during the given time frame.

Japanese candlesticks are formed using the open, high, low, and close of the chosen time period.

  • If the close is above the open, then a hollow candlestick (usually displayed as white) is drawn.
  • If the close is below the open, then a filled candlestick (usually displayed as black) is drawn.
  • The hollow or filled section of the candlestick is called the “real body” or body.
  • The thin lines poking above and below the body display the high/low range and are called shadows.
  • The top of the upper shadow is the “high”.
  • The bottom of the lower shadow is the “low”.

Japanese Candlestick Anatomy

Bodies

Just like humans, candlesticks have different body sizes. And when it comes to forex trading, there’s nothing naughtier than checking out the bodies of candlesticks!

Long bodies indicate strong buying or selling. The longer the body is, the more intense the buying or selling pressure. This means that either buyers or sellers were stronger and took control.

Short bodies imply very little buying or-selling activity. In street forex lingo, bulls mean buyers and bears mean sellers.

Long white Japanese candlesticks show strong buying pressure. The longer the white candlestick, the further the close is above the open. This indicates that prices increased considerably from open to close and buyers were aggressive. In other words, the bulls are kicking the bears’ butts big time!

Long black (filled) candlesticks show strong selling pressure. The longer the black Japanese candlestick, the further the close is below the open. This indicates that prices fell a great deal from the open and sellers were aggressive. In other words, the bears were grabbing the bulls by their horns and body-slamming them.

Mysterious Shadows

The upper and lower shadows on Japanese candlesticks provide important clues about the trading session.

Upper shadows signify the session high. Lower shadows signify the session low.

Candlesticks with long shadows show that trading action occurred well past the open and close.

Japanese candlesticks with short shadows indicate that most of the trading action was confined near the open and close.

If a Japanese candlestick has a long upper shadow and short lower shadow, this means that buyers flexed their muscles and bid prices higher, but for one reason or another, sellers came in and drove prices back down to end the session back near its open price.

If a Japanese candlestick has a long lower shadow and short upper shadow, this means that sellers flashed their washboard abs and forced price lower, but for one reason or another, buyers came in and drove prices back up to end the session back near its open price.

Basic Japanese Candlestick Patterns

Doji

Doji candlesticks have the same open and close price or at least their bodies are extremely short. A doji should have a very small body that appears as a thin line.

Doji candles suggest indecision or a struggle for turf positioning between buyers and sellers. Prices move above and below the open price during the session, but close at or very near the open price.

Neither buyers nor sellers were able to gain control and the result was essentially a draw.

There are four special types of Doji candlesticks. The length of the upper and lower shadows can vary and the resulting forex candlestick looks like a cross, inverted cross or plus sign. The word “Doji” refers to both the singular and plural form.

When a Doji forms on your chart, pay special attention to the preceding candlesticks.

If a Doji forms after a series of candlesticks with long hollow bodies (like White Marubozus), the Doji signals that the buyers are becoming exhausted and weakening. In order for price to continue rising, more buyers are needed but there aren’t anymore! Sellers are licking their chops and are looking to come in and drive the price back down.

Forex Candlestick Pattern: Long White Candle and Doji

If a Doji forms after a series of candlesticks with long filled bodies (like Black Marubozus), the Doji signals that sellers are becoming exhausted and weak. In order for price to continue falling, more sellers are needed but sellers are all tapped out! Buyers are foaming in the mouth for a chance to get in cheap.

While the decline is sputtering due to lack of new sellers, further buying strength is required to confirm any reversal. Look for a white candlestick to close above the long black candlestick’s open.

In the next following sections, we will take a look at specific Japanese candlestick pattern and what they are telling us. Hopefully, by the end of this lesson on candlesticks, you will know how to recognize different types of forex candlestick patterns and make sound trading decisions based on them.

Spinning Tops

Japanese candlesticks with a long upper shadow, long lower shadow and small real bodies are called spinning tops. The color of the real body is not very important.

The pattern indicates the indecision between the buyers and sellers.

 

Forex Candlestick Pattern: Spinning Tops

The small real body (whether hollow or filled) shows little movement from open to close, and the shadows indicate that both buyers and sellers were fighting but nobody could gain the upper hand.

Even though the session opened and closed with little change, prices moved significantly higher and lower in the meantime. Neither buyers nor sellers could gain the upper hand, and the result was a standoff.

If a spinning top forms during an uptrend, this usually means there aren’t many buyers left and a possible reversal in direction could occur.

If a spinning top forms during a downtrend, this usually means there aren’t many sellers left and a possible reversal in direction could occur.

Single Candlestick Patterns

Learn how to use single candlestick patterns to identify potential market reversals.

Here are the four basic single Japanese candlestick patterns:

Hammer and Hanging Man

The hammer and hanging man look exactly alike but have totally different meanings depending on past price action. Both have cute little bodies (black or white), long lower shadows, and short or absent upper shadows.


 

Hammer at the end of a downtrend and Hanging Man at the end of an uptrend

The hammer is a bullish reversal pattern that forms during a downtrend. It is named because the market is hammering out a bottom.

When price is falling, hammers signal that the bottom is near and price will start rising again. The long lower shadow indicates that sellers pushed prices lower, but buyers were able to overcome this selling pressure and closed near the open.

Just because you see a hammer form in a downtrend doesn’t mean you automatically place a buy order! More bullish confirmation is needed before it’s safe to pull the trigger.

A typical example of confirmation would be to wait for a white candlestick to close above the open to the right side of the hammer.

Recognition Criteria:

  • The long shadow is about two or three times of the real body.
  • Little or no upper shadow.
  • The real body is at the upper end of the trading range.
  • The color of the real body is not important.

The hanging man is a bearish reversal pattern that can also mark a top or strong resistance level. When price is rising, the formation of a hanging man indicates that sellers are beginning to outnumber buyers.

The long lower shadow shows that sellers pushed prices lower during the session. Buyers were able to push the price back up some but only near the open.

This should set off alarms since this tells us that there are no buyers left to provide the necessary momentum to keep raising the price.

Recognition Criteria:

  • A long lower shadow which is about two or three times of the real body.
  • Little or no upper shadow.
  • The real body is at the upper end of the trading range.
  • The color of the body is not important, though a black body is more bearish than a white body.

Inverted Hammer and Shooting Star

The inverted hammer and shooting star also look identical. The only difference between them is whether you’re in a downtrend or uptrend. Both candlesticks have petite little bodies (filled or hollow), long upper shadows, and small or absent lower shadows.

 

The inverted hammer occurs when price has been falling suggests the possibility of a reversal. Its long upper shadow shows that buyers tried to bid the price higher.

However, sellers saw what the buyers were doing, said “Oh heck no!” and attempted to push the price back down.

Fortunately, the buyers had eaten enough of their Wheaties for breakfast and still managed to close the session near the open.

Since the sellers weren’t able to close the price any lower, this is a good indication that everybody who wants to sell has already sold. And if there are no more sellers, who is left? Buyers.

The shooting star is a bearish reversal pattern that looks identical to the inverted hammer but occurs when price has been rising. Its shape indicates that the price opened at its low, rallied, but pulled back to the bottom.

This means that buyers attempted to push the price up, but sellers came in and overpowered them. This is a definite bearish sign since there are no more buyers left because they’ve all been murdered.

 

Engulfing Candles

The bullish engulfing pattern is a two candlestick pattern that signals a strong up move may be coming. It happens when a bearish candle is immediately followed by a larger bullish candle.

This second candle “engulfs” the bearish candle. This means buyers are flexing their muscles and that there could be a strong up move after a recent downtrend or a period of consolidation.

On the other hand, the bearish engulfing pattern is the opposite of the bullish pattern. This type of candlestick pattern occurs when the bullish candle is immediately followed by a bearish candle that completely “engulfs” it. This means that sellers overpowered the buyers and that a strong move down could happen.

Evening and Morning Stars

The morning star and the evening star are triple candlestick patterns that you can usually find at the end of a trend. They are reversal patterns that can be recognized through these three characteristics:

  1. The first candlestick is a bullish candle, which is part of a recent uptrend.
  2. The second candle has a small body, indicating that there could be some indecision in the market. This candle can be either bullish or bearish.
  3. The third candlestick acts as a confirmation that a reversal is in place, as the candle closes beyond
  4. the midpoint of the first candle.
Number of Bars Candlestick Name Bullish or Bearish? What It Looks Like?
Single Spinning Top Neutral Candlestick Pattern: Spinning Tops
Doji Neutral Candlestick Pattern: Dojis
White Marubozu Bullish Candlestick Pattern: White Marubozu
Black Marubozu Bearish Candlestick Pattern: Black Marubozu
Hammer Bullish Candlestick Pattern: Hammer
Hanging Man Bearish Candlestick Pattern: Hanging Man
Inverted Hammer Bullish Candlestick Pattern: Inverted Hammer
Shooting Star Bearish Candlestick Pattern: Shooting Star
Number of Bars Candlestick Name Bullish or Bearish? What it Looks Like?
Double Bullish Engulfing Bullish Dual Candlestick Pattern: Bullish Engulfing
Bearish Engulfing Bearish Dual Candlestick Pattern: Bearish Engulfing
Tweezer Tops Bearish Dual Candlestick Pattern: Tweezer Tops
Tweezer Bottoms Bullish Dual Candlestick Pattern: Tweezer Bottoms
Triple Morning Star Bullish Triple Candlestick Pattern: Morning Star
Evening Star Bearish Triple Candlestick Pattern: Evening Star
Three White Soldiers Bullish Triple Candlestick Pattern: Three White Soldiers
Three Black Crows Bearish Triple Candlestick Pattern: Three Black Crows
Three Inside Up Bullish Triple Candlestick Pattern: Three Inside Up
Three Inside Down Bearish Triple Candlestick Pattern: Three Inside Down