Japanese candlestick patterns offer a vivid and insightful way to analyze market trends and investor behavior. Originating in 17th-century Japan, these charts have survived for centuries and traveled the world to become an essential tool for modern traders across various markets. With their unique and clear visual representation of price movements, these distinct formations known as "candlesticks" provide traders with a tool to quickly identify potential trends, reversals and continuations.
Whether you're a seasoned investor or just starting your trading journey, understanding Japanese candlestick charts can improve your decision-making process and help you navigate the complex world of financial markets. After all, as a trader, you need any edge you can get. In this guide, we will delve into the fundamental principles of Japanese candlestick charts, demystifying their structure, interpretation, and practical application in today's trading landscape.
What Is a Candlestick?
A Japanese candlestick is a visual representation of price movements within a certain trading timeframe. In the world of retail trading, candlesticks can provide a clear understanding of market dynamics. The beauty of their use is to reflect the concepts of the open, close, high and low prices in a single candlestick figure. This makes it much easier for traders to read price patterns instantly.
Traders use these patterns to decide on the best entry and exit points for their trades, giving them the chance to more accurately manage their risk and potentially increase their returns. It’s important to mention at this point that no tool can predict market movements and guarantee success. However, Japanese candlesticks, when used with other technical analysis tools and indicators, can significantly improve a trader's ability to capture market trends. Remember, movements are influenced by an intricate web of factors, and patterns that worked in the past might not always work in the future.
Let’s understand what makes up a Japanese candlestick chart:
Candle Body: The "body" of the candlestick shows the range between the opening and closing prices during a specific time period, such as a day, hour or minute.
If the closing price is higher than the opening price, the body is normally filled or colored (often green or white). This shows a bullish period where buyers were in control.
If the closing price is lower than the opening price, the body is usually a different color or shaded (often red or black), revealing a bearish period where sellers were in control.
Candle Wick/Shadow: The "wick," also known as the "shadow," represents the price range outside of the opening and closing prices during a specific time period. The wick consists of thin lines extending from the top and bottom of the candlestick's body.
The upper wick extends from the top of the body to the highest price of that time period. It shows how high prices reached above the opening and closing prices while the lower wick extends from the bottom of the body to the lowest price of that time period.
The wicks tell a story about price volatility and the battle between buyers and sellers during that time frame. Long wicks suggest a high level of indecision or conflict between buyers and sellers, while short wicks often mean there was less volatility.
Candle Color: The colors of the candlesticks are not just a visual aid, but carry significant meaning, revealing the relationship between the opening and closing prices within a specific time period.
Bullish Candlestick: A candlestick that closes higher than its opening price is typically colored green or white, depending on the chart's color scheme. This indicates a bullish period where buyers controlled the market, pushing prices up. The body of the candlestick, the fat shape between the opening and closing prices, is filled with this color, confirming the upward movement.
Bearish Candlestick: On the other hand, a candlestick that closes lower than its opening price is typically colored red or black. This represents a bearish period where sellers were dominant, driving prices down. Same as the bullish candlestick, the body is filled with this color to highlight the downward trend.
Without spending too much time reading market data, traders can see whether buyers or sellers were in control during the time frame represented by each candlestick, which can be crucial when they must make snap decisions.
Popular Terms in Candlestick Charts
Here are a few terms based on candlestick charts to revisit whenever you trade:
Emerging patterns: Candlestick patterns that haven’t yet formed but are in progress.
Completed patterns: Normally these are the patterns that have already developed, and can be regarded as either bullish or bearish signals.
Open: The opening price of a candle.
Close: The closing price of a candle.
High: The highest level the price reached during the period covered by the candle.
Low: The lowest level the price touched during the period covered by the candle.
Candlestick: Represents price movement over a specific time period, with a body showing the open and close prices and wicks showing the high and low prices.
Bullish Candle: A candle where the closing price is higher than the opening price, often colored green or white. Buyers had the upper hand here.
Bearish Candle: A candle where the closing price is lower than the opening price, often colored red or black. Sellers were in control and drove prices down.
Wick/Shadow: The thin lines extending from the body of the candlestick, representing the highest and lowest prices reached during the time period.
Engulfing Pattern: A two-candle pattern where the body of the second candle completely covers or "engulfs" the body of the previous candle. It can be a sign of a reversal.
Trend: The general direction in which the price of an asset is moving. It can be upward (bullish), downward (bearish), or sideways (neutral).
Support and Resistance: Support is a price level where buying tends to occur, and is the lowest price of an asset in a time period. Resistance is a level where selling typically occurs, and is the highest price of an asset in a time period, for more information about support and resistance please click here
Volume: The number of shares or contracts traded during a specific time frame, often used in conjunction with candlestick patterns to confirm signals.
Time Frame: The period that each candlestick represents, such as one day, one hour or five minutes.
Moving Averages: A statistical calculation to smooth short-term fluctuations and highlight longer-term trends or cycles.
Go short: The practice of entering into a trade where you bet on the decline of an asset's price. By going short, you believe the price of the asset will decrease, and you can profit from the anticipated price drop.
Go long: Means to buy a financial instrument with the expectation that its price will rise in the future.
Understanding these terms and how they relate to each other is essential for effectively using Japanese candlestick charts as a trading tool. Many traders start by familiarizing themselves with these concepts, often through educational materials, courses or practice on demo accounts.
Do candlesticks patterns really work?
Japanese candlestick patterns are not a magic bullet. In fact, no such tool exists in the world of trading. If it did, we would all be rich! For you to be successful, you must make the most of a range of analysis tools, of which Japanese candlesticks are just one type.
The short answer to whether they work is - yes, but with significant caveats. The effectiveness of these patterns can often depend on how they're applied, the market context, and a clear understanding of what the patterns represent, especially the tension between bullish and bearish forces.
When using Japanese candlesticks, traders should always pay attention to confirmation and context. While these patterns can provide useful signals, they are rarely foolproof on their own. Successful traders often look for confirmation from other technical indicators, market news, or larger trends. The broader market context can significantly impact whether a pattern leads to a predictable outcome.
Do chart patterns work in all financial markets?
Japanese candlestick chart patterns have been applied across various financial trading markets, including stocks, cryptocurrencies, commodities, FOREX and more. The reason for their widespread use lies in their ability to represent the fundamental principles of supply and demand, bullish and bearish forces, that are common across all markets. Here's how they function in different trading markets:
While Japanese candlestick patterns can be used across all financial trading markets, their success depends on proper understanding within the context of the specific market and current conditions. Combining them with other tools and analysis techniques, and applying proper risk-management strategies, will generally help you make more reliable and data-driven decisions.
Importance in modern trading
Japanese candlestick charts have become an essential tool in modern trading. The main reasons are as follows:
Visual Clarity: These charts provide a clear visual representation of price movements, showing open, close, high, and low prices within specific time frames.
Market Psychology: Candlestick patterns can uncover the underlying emotions and psychology of market players. Traders can gauge the balance between bullish and bearish forces and anticipate potential reversals or continuations.
Versatility Across Markets: As previously discussed, Japanese candlestick charts are applicable to various financial markets.
Complementing Other Analyses: Candlestick patterns are often used in conjunction with other technical analysis tools, such as trend lines, moving averages, and oscillators. They can also be combined with fundamental analysis, providing a comprehensive view of market conditions.
The Success Rate of Japanese Candlesticks
It's vitally important to understand that Japanese candlesticks can be successful; but there are so many factors at play, it becomes very difficult to establish a clear success rate. In fact, Japanese-candlestick trading has been the subject of academic journals and papers, with no clear success rate coming from all these studies!
It would be irresponsible for our experts at Arincen Network to promise a defined success rate for a particular candlestick. This is impossible to do as candlestick pattern effectiveness can vary widely, depending on several factors. These include the overall market conditions, the time frame being analyzed, the asset being traded, and the trader's execution of the strategy. Beware of trading packages promising you a defined success percentage.
For a start, not all candlesticks give you a trigger to trade. Many neutral potential reversal signals — e.g., doji and spinning tops — will appear that should put you on the alert for the next directional move. Then, bearish or bullish candlesticks could give you the prompt to act.
Context matters. If a pattern appears randomly within a trend, it may not be as meaningful. Also, confirmation is key. Waiting for additional confirmation, like supportive evidence from other technical indicators, can increase the chances of a successful trade.
Therefore, relying solely on candlesticks without paying attention to market dynamics or technical and fundamental analysis can lead to mixed results. Combining it with other tools and insights usually provides a more robust trading strategy.
Remember, even with a seemingly strong signal, trades can go against you. Implementing sound risk management, like setting stop-loss order, can protect against significant losses. Also, historical performance does not guarantee future results, so it’s always a good idea to backtest any strategy on historical data and practice in a demo account to understand how it might perform in various market conditions.
What to do before trading with Japanese Candlesticks
There are some key steps you should always be following before acting on information from a Japanese candlestick. Let’s start with the simplest and most common candlestick – the Doji. What steps would you take to be confident you are making a good trade? Here are some of the most important ones:
Observe Context: Look at the trend preceding the Doji. If it appears after a prolonged uptrend, it may signal exhaustion among buyers, and vice versa for a downtrend.
Wait for Confirmation: Instead of taking immediate action, wait for the following candles to confirm the pattern's implication. For example, if a Doji is followed by a bearish candle in an uptrend, it might signal a reversal, and you could consider selling or shorting. If followed by a bullish candle in a downtrend, you might consider buying.
Assess Other Indicators: Use other technical indicators, like moving averages, to gain a clearer picture of the market's direction. A Doji in conjunction with other bearish signals might strengthen a selling decision, and the opposite for a buying decision.
Consider Risk Management: If you're already in a position, you might use a Doji as a cue to reevaluate your stop-loss and take-profit levels, tightening or loosening them based on the potential direction hinted at by the Doji.
Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions: Remember, a Doji doesn't demand immediate buying or selling; it's a sign of uncertainty. Acting hastily without further analysis or confirmation might lead to poor decisions.
Analyze Volume: Paying attention to trading volume during the Doji might provide additional clues. High volume may lend more significance to the indecision, while low volume might mean it's less critical.
Overview of The 21 Patterns
Description: A candlestick that has the same opening and closing prices.
What should I do when faced with a Doji?
A Doji candlestick pattern represents a state of indecision in the market, where the opening and closing prices are essentially the same. It can be a sign of a potential reversal or continuation, but on its own, it doesn't provide a clear buying or selling signal.
A Doji is more of a warning signal to pay closer attention rather than a direct call to buy or sell. It should prompt you to keep your eyes open, consider other indicators, and possibly prepare for action based on further confirmation. Always align your actions with your overall trading strategy, risk tolerance and understanding of the specific market you are trading.
Description: A candle with a small body and long lower wick.
What should I do when faced with a Hammer?
If you see a Hammer after a downtrend, it suggests that the market is attempting to find a bottom. The hammer's long lower wick shows that sellers pushed prices down, but buyers managed to push the prices back up to near the open. This could be a good time to consider entering a long position. The Hammer is an example of a popular reversal indicator. A Hammer signals a bullish reversal after a downtrend. Its limitation is that it is a single-candle pattern, which might lead to false signals.
If you see a Hammer pattern, especially when supported by additional bullish confirmation in the form of a following green candle or other technical indicators, it might suggest a buying opportunity. Traders often see this as a sign to enter a long position, anticipating an upward trend. Before trading, first look for confirmation from following candles, and, if confirmed, consider buying while employing appropriate risk management strategies.
Description: Similar to Hammer but found at the end of an uptrend.
What should I do when faced with a Hanging Man?
A Hanging Man candlestick pattern is often viewed as a bearish reversal signal. It resembles a Hammer with a small body and a long lower wick but occurs during an uptrend. The normal trading response to a Hanging Man candlestick is to recognize it as a potential bearish reversal signal during an uptrend, to look for confirmation in following candles and, if confirmed, to consider selling or shorting.
Description: A small body with a long upper wick.
What should I do when faced with a Shooting Star?
A Shooting Star candlestick pattern is often considered a bearish reversal signal. It appears during an uptrend and has a small body with a long upper wick and little or no lower wick, resembling a shooting star. The classical trading response to a Shooting Star candlestick is to recognize it as a potential bearish reversal sign during an uptrend, to seek confirmation from the following candles, and to consider selling or shorting.
Description: A two-candle formation where the body of a candle engulfs the previous one.
What should I do when faced with an Engulfing Pattern?
This pattern is known to be bullish if it occurs after a downtrend and bearish if it appears after an uptrend. It can signal a reversal in trend. It comes in two types: Bullish Engulfing and Bearish Engulfing.
Bullish Engulfing: Confirming a downtrend. Ensure that the Bullish Engulfing pattern appears during a downtrend, with the second candle completely engulfing the first. Consider buying. If confirmed, it may be a signal to enter a long position, anticipating a bullish reversal.
Bearish Engulfing: Confirming an uptrend. Ensure that the Bearish Engulfing pattern appears during an uptrend, with the second candle completely engulfing the first. Look for a subsequent bearish candle or other confirming signals. If confirmed, it may be a signal to enter a short position or sell existing long positions, anticipating a bearish reversal.
Description: A small candle followed by a larger one.
What should I do when faced with a Harami Pattern?
A Harami pattern is a two-candle formation that often signals a potential reversal or pause in the current trend. It consists of a large candle followed by a smaller candle, with the body of the smaller candle fully contained within the body of the larger candle. Like the Engulfing pattern, it comes in two forms: Bullish Harami and Bearish Harami:
Bullish Harami: Confirming a downtrend. Look for the Bullish Harami during a clear downtrend. Wait for a subsequent bullish candle or other confirming indicators. Now may be time to consider a long position, anticipating a bullish reversal or pause in the downtrend.
Bearish Harami: Confirming an uptrend. Look for the Bearish Harami during a clear uptrend. Consider selling or shorting. If other analysis is confirmed, it may be a signal to enter a short position or sell existing long positions, anticipating a bearishreversal or pause in the uptrend.
Description: A bullish candle following a strong bearish candle.
What should I do when faced with a Piercing Pattern?
The Piercing Pattern is a bullish reversal candlestick pattern that consists of two candles. It usually appears at the end of a downtrend. The best trading response to a Piercing Pattern is to recognize its potential as a bullish reversal signal at the end of a downtrend, seek additional confirmation and think about entering a long position with appropriate risk management.
Dark Cloud Cover
Description: The opposite of the Piercing Pattern.
What should I do when faced with a Dark Cloud Cover Pattern?
The Dark Cloud Cover is a bearish reversal candlestick pattern that consists of two candles and is often thought of as the bearish counterpart to the Piercing Pattern. It normally appears at the end of an uptrend. The classical trading response to a Dark Cloud Cover pattern is to recognize its potential as a bearish reversal signal at the end of an uptrend. After supplementing your decision with other research, you should consider entering a short position or selling long positions.
Description: A three-candle pattern signaling the start of an uptrend.
What should I do when faced with a Morning Star?
The Morning Star is a bullish reversal candlestick pattern that typically appears at the end of a downtrend. It consists of three candles: a large bearish candle, a small-bodied or doji candle and a large bullish candle. When you see a Morning Star pattern, identify its potential as a bullish reversal signal at the end of a downtrend, seek confirmation through additional candles or indicators and then consider buying to take advantage of the uptrend.
Description: The opposite of the Morning Star.
What should I do when faced with an Evening Star?
Evening Star pattern is a bearish reversal candlestick formation that often appears at the end of an uptrend. It consists of three candles: a large bullish candle, a small-bodied or doji candle and a large bearish candle. To best take advantage of this bearish reversal signal at the end of an uptrend, think about entering a short position or selling long positions.
Three White Soldiers
Description: Three consecutive long-bodied bullish candles.
What should I do when faced with Three White Soldiers?
This pattern is a bullish candlestick formation that usually signals a strong reversal from a downtrend. It is made up of three consecutive long-bodied bullish candles, each closing higher than the previous one. Normally, the best trading response to a Three White Soldiers pattern is to identify it as a robust bullish reversal signal at the end of a downtrend, consider entering a long position and manage the trade with appropriate risk controls like stop-losses and take-profits.
Three Black Crows
Description: The opposite of Three White Soldiers.
What should I do when faced with Three Black Crows?
The Three Black Crows pattern is a bearish reversal candlestick formation that typically appears at the end of an uptrend and the beginning of a downward trend. You can tell which one it is by its distinctive three consecutive long-bodied bearish candles, each closing lower than the previous one. When faced with this pattern, your financial asset is likely undergoing a strong bearish reversal at the end of an uptrend. You should consider entering a short position or selling long positions. Just remember to manage the trade with appropriate risk controls like stop-losses or take-profits.
Description: A candle without wicks, signaling strong buying pressure.
What should I do when faced with a Bullish Marubozu?
This pattern is often used to confirm an existing uptrend. The Bullish Marubozu is a single candlestick pattern that can signify strong buying interest. It has a long body with little to no shadows or wicks, meaning that the open is equal or very near to the low, and the close is equal or very near to the high of the session. Your best bet in this case is to recognize it as a potential bullish continuation or reversal signal, depending on the context. Traders might consider buying or adding to long positions. Just remember to use other technical indicators to reinforce the decision.
Description: The opposite of Bullish Marubozu.
What should I do when faced with a Bearish Marubozu?
A Bearish Marubozu is a single candlestick pattern characterized by strong selling interest. It has a long body with little to no shadows or wicks, meaning that the open is equal or very near to the high and the close is equal or very near to the low of the session. It is often used to confirm an existing downtrend. This means you should treat it as a potential bearish continuation or reversal signal, depending on the context. In instances like these, you should think about selling or shorting.
Description: Two or more candles with matching highs.
What should I do when faced with Tweezer Tops?
The Tweezer Tops pattern is a bearish reversal candlestick formation that typically appears at the end of an uptrend. Traders use it to predict potential reversal downward. Your best bet when faced with this pattern is to treat it as a bearish reversal signal at the end of an uptrend. As always, try to find additional confirmation through other candles or indicators, and, if validated, consider entering a short position or selling long positions.
Description: Two or more candles with matching lows.
What should I do when faced with Tweezer Bottoms?
The Tweezer Bottoms pattern is a bullish reversal candlestick formation that typically appears at the end of a downtrend. The classical trading response to a Tweezer Bottoms pattern is to view it as a bullish reversal signal at the end of a downtrend. If all your other indicators confirm this, consider entering a long position or adding to long positions.
Rising Three Method
Description: A pattern within an uptrend with three small bearish candles.
What should I do when faced with a Rising Three Method?
This pattern is a bullish continuation candlestick pattern that hints at the potential continuation of an existing uptrend. Before acting, make sure that the pattern is confirmed, then consider it as a signal to enter a long position or add to an existing position.
Falling Three Method
Description: Opposite of Rising Three Method.
What should I do when faced with a Falling Three Method?
The Falling Three Method is a strong bearish continuation candlestick pattern that likely means there is a continued existing downtrend in play. Like all candlestick patterns, it's crucial to remember that the Falling Three Method should be used in conjunction with other indicators and analysis techniques. Given that the Falling Three Methods is a bearish continuation pattern, the best action would be to consider taking a short position or adding to an existing short position. This is because the pattern indicates that prices will probably continue to decrease.
Bullish Harami Cross
Description: A large bearish candle followed by a Doji within its body.
What should I do when faced with a Bullish Harami Cross?
A bullish reversal candlestick pattern suggests a potential change in trend from bearish to bullish. The best course of action here is to consider entering a long position or adding to an existing long position. This is because you are anticipating a rise in the asset's price. A common strategy is to set a stop loss just below the low of the Bullish Harami Cross pattern. If the reversal doesn't pan out, your losses can be minimized.
Bearish Harami Cross
Description: The opposite of Bullish Harami Cross.
What should I do when faced with a Bearish Harami Cross?
The Bearish Harami Cross is a bearish reversal candlestick pattern that means your financial asset has possibly come to the end of a prevailing uptrend and is about to start a new downtrend. First confirm that this is the case through verifying it with other patterns and technical analysis. If it works out, now is the time to initiate a short position or exit or reduce a current long position.
Description: Similar to Shooting Star but appears after a downtrend.
What should I do when faced with an Inverted Hammer?
The Inverted Hammer typically appears at the bottom of a downtrend. It suggests the potential for a strong return to the upside. The Inverted Hammer’s classic long upper shadow means that buyers have pushed the prices up significantly, but by the close of the period, prices retreated, ending close to where they began. This likely means that buying pressure could further build more bullish sentiment. In this case, you should consider going long so you can benefit from the bullish regains. As always, first use other measures to confirm your analysis.
Which Types of Traders Can Get The Most Out Of Candlestick Patterns?
Japanese candlestick patterns are versatile and can be used by various types of retail traders. Here's how different traders might benefit from using them:
Swing Traders: Swing traders, who typically hold positions for several days to weeks, might find candlestick patterns helpful in identifying short-term momentum and potential reversals. These patterns can provide insights into market psychology over the short-to-medium term.
Day Traders: These active traders buy and sell within a single trading day, often using candlestick charts to recognize intraday trends and reversals.
Technical Traders: Experts and elite traders who rely primarily on technical analysis find Japanese candlestick patterns particularly useful. These traders often look for complementary signals to confirm trends they may have spotted elsewhere, and candlestick charts can provide good visual representations of these.
FOREX Traders: Japanese candlesticks are very popular in the FOREX market to analyze currency pairs. They are very helpful to FOREX traders who operate in a market where sentiment and direction are key.
Beginners: For newbie traders, Japanese candlesticks offer a far easier way to understand price action compared to other types of charts. They visually represent open, close, high and low prices in a way that is simple to interpret.
We’ve said it before, but it is worth repeating. While Japanese candlesticks can be a valuable tool, they are not foolproof and should be used in conjunction with other forms of analysis, like technical indicators, fundamental analysis or macroeconomic factors. Combining these methods provides a more holistic view of the market and can lead to better trading decisions, regardless of your trading style or focus.
The Bottom Line
Japanese candlesticks offer traders an easy-to-understand way to read price movements over specified time frames. These patterns, ranging from simple one-candle formations to more detailed multi-candle setups, provide insights into the underlying market psychology and potential future price direction. Their widespread adoption by traders worldwide is a testament to how useful they can be.
Mastering these patterns is a crucial step in your trading journey, but it's equally important to remember that no single tool or method is infallible in trading. Combining candlestick patterns with other technical indicators, chart patterns and solid risk management strategies can ensure you have a long trading career.
What are Japanese candlesticks?
Japanese candlesticks are a method of charting and analyzing the price movement of financial instruments. Each candlestick represents a specific time frame and shows the opening, closing, high and low prices during that period. The body of the candlestick shows the price range between the open and close, while the wicks (or shadows) display the highest and lowest prices during the period.
How do Japanese candlestick patterns differ from regular bar charts?
While both provide similar information about price movements, candlestick charts more strongly and intuitively underscore the relationship between the opening and closing prices.
What are some basic candlestick patterns I should know?
Some fundamental patterns include the Doji (indicating indecision), Bullish Engulfing (potential bullish reversal), Bearish Engulfing (potential bearish reversal), Hammer and Inverted Hammer (potential trend reversals), and the Morning Star and Evening Star (bullish and bearish reversal patterns, respectively).
How reliable are candlestick patterns in predicting price movement?
While candlestick patterns provide valuable insights into market sentiment, no single pattern guarantees a particular price movement. They are best used together with other technical analysis tools and good old fundamental analysis.
Do Japanese candlestick patterns work for all time frames?
Yes, candlestick patterns can be applied to any time frame, from 1-minute charts to monthly charts. However, the significance of a pattern might vary based on the timeframe. Patterns on longer time frames, like daily or weekly charts, may have a more prolonged impact than those on shorter time frames.
Can I use Japanese candlesticks to trade any financial instrument?
Absolutely! While originally developed for rice futures trading in Japan, candlestick charting can be applied to stocks, FOREX, commodities, cryptocurrencies and many other financial instruments.
Adrian Ashley is a seasoned business and finance writer. With a corporate career spanning over 20years, he has developed deep experience in such diverse areas as investing, business, finance,technology and macroeconomics. He is passionate about captu...