In Japan you will often run into 12 different zodiac figures.
They’re available as omamori (lucky charms) or printed on ema (wooden wishing plaques) at shrines / temples and even on Japanese New Year cards.
To be fair, those zodiacs have their origin in China, so more accurately we’re talking about the Chinese Zodiac signs.
I’m sure most of you have heard of them?
There are 12 animal zodiac figures and each of them stands for a specific year.
Each animal is also associated with specific character traits, a direction, a month and a certain time of the day (2 h span).
What is your Japanese zodiac sign?
If you don’t know your zodiac sign, go here and look for the year you were born in!
Are you satisfied with your animal zodiac or would you rather be something else? If so, what animal would you prefer to yours?
I’m a monkey (which is okay), but I’d love to be a cat!
Yes, there is no cat among the 12 animals. Do you know why?
If you want to know more about his, I can write another, more detailed post.
In Japan, these zodiac signs are a big deal and you will run into them very often.
Especially at temples and shrines you can often buy lucky charms of your zodiac.
They make a great souvenir, so you should definitely find out what your zodiac sign is before coming to Japan!
It would be horrible to stand in front of a bunch of cute lucky charms, not knowing which one is for you!
Although I have to admit that it really depends on your animal.
If you are a rabbit or a sheep, you’ll always find something cute.
Not so much if you’re a monkey like me!
You will find zodiac related items in almost every Japanese house!
Usually, they decorate their house with figures of the current year’s animal.
I also have bigger figures of the ox and the tiger.
It’s similar to Christmas decoration, just that most people have it out the whole year, changing the figures as the year changes.
I decided to buy something where I can have all animals displayed at once!
At the time I took the photo it was the year of the rabbit (2011).
The animals are lined up in the correct order and every year you are moving them by one.
So, looking at the photo above, you’ll know which animal was representing which year:
Dragon (2012), snake (2013), horse (2014), sheep (2015), monkey (2016), rooster (2017), dog (2018), boar (2019), mouse (2020), ox (2021), tiger (2022).
Thanks for reading!~