The Ichimoku Kinko Hyo indicator was originally developed by a Japanese newspaper writer to combine various technical strategies into a single indicator that could be easily implemented and interpreted. In Japanese, “ichimoku” translates to “one look,” meaning traders only have to take one look at the chart to determine momentum, support, and resistance.
Ichimoku may look very complicated to novice traders that haven’t seen it before, but the complexity quickly disappears with an understanding of what the various lines mean and why they are used.
The Ichimoku indicator is best used in conjunction with other forms of technical analysis despite its goal of being an all-in-one indicator.
It was developed in the late 1930s by Goichi Hosoda, a Japanese journalist who used to be known as Ichimoku Sanjin, which can be translated as “what a man in the mountain sees”. He spent 30 years perfecting the technique before releasing his findings to the general public in the late 1960s.
Ichimoku Kinko Hyo translates to one glance equilibrium chart or instant look at the balance chart and is sometimes referred to as “one glance cloud chart” based on the unique “clouds” that feature in Ichimoku charting.
Ichimoku is a moving average-based trend identification system and because it contains more data points than standard candlestick charts, it provides a clearer picture of potential price action. The main difference between how moving averages are plotted in Ichimoku as opposed to other methods is that Ichimoku’s lines are constructed using the 50% point of the highs and lows as opposed to the candle’s closing price. Ichimoku takes into consideration the factor of time as an additional element along with the price action, similar to William Delbert Gann’s trading ideas.
In the Western world, it is solely known for its “Graphic Environment”, due to the fact that authors have not translated the original manual into English, German, nor Spanish. However, Ichimoku is also integrated by three other theories that improve and enhance the indicator:
- Time Theory
- Wave Movement Theory
- Target Price Theory
There are five key components to the Ichimoku indicator:
The Ichimoku Kinko Hyo, or Ichimoku for short, is a technical indicator that is used to gauge momentum along with future areas of support and resistance. The all-in-one technical indicator consists of five lines called the tenkan-sen, kijun-sen, senkou span A, senkou span B and chikou span.
- Tenkan-sen: The tenkan-sen, or conversion line, is calculated by adding the highest high and the highest low over the past nine periods and then dividing the result by two. The resulting line represents a key support and resistance level, as well as a signal line for reversals.
- Kijun-sen: The kijun-sen, or base line, is calculated by adding the highest high and the lowest low over the past 26 periods and dividing the result by two. The resulting line represents a key support and resistance level, a confirmation of a trend change, and can be used as a trailing stop-loss point.
- Senkou Span A: The senkou span A, or leading span A, is calculated by adding the tenkan-sen and the kijun-sen, dividing the result by two, and then plotting the result 26 periods ahead. The resulting line forms one edge of the kumo – or cloud – that’s used to identify future areas of support and resistance.
- Senkou Span B: The senkou span B, or leading span B, is calculated by adding the highest high and the lowest low over the past 52 periods, dividing it by two, and then plotting the result 26 periods ahead. The resulting line forms the other edge of the kumo that’s used to identify future areas of support and resistance.
Kumo: Kumo (cloud) is the space between Senkou span A and B. The cloud edges identify current and potential future support and resistance points.The Kumo cloud changes in shape and height based on price changes. This height represents volatility as larger price movements form thicker clouds, which creates stronger support and resistance. As thinner clouds offer only weak support and resistance, prices can and tend to break through such thin clouds.
Generally, markets are bullish when Senkou Span A is above Senkou Span B and vice versa when markets are bearish. Traders often look for Kumo Twists in future clouds, where Senkou Span A and B exchange positions, a signal of potential trend reversals.
In addition to thickness, the strength of the cloud can also be ascertained by its angle; upwards for bullish and downwards for bearish. Any clouds behind price are also known as Kumo Shadows.
- Chikou Span: The chikou span, or lagging span, is the current period’s closing price plotted 26 days back on the chart. This line is used to show possible areas of support and resistance.