Calendar dating back to 1980
Most scholars believe the Chinese Zodiac originated well before the Historical Buddha’s birth in India (who was born around 500 BC).In China, the earliest depictions of the 12 Zodiac animals appear in tomb-ceiling paintings dated to 533 BC . In addition to the Eight Buddhist Deities and 12 Zodiac Animals shown above, there are Zodiac traditions involving other popular Japanese deities.The Chinese zodiac, moreover, is not equated with constellations, as is the occidental zodiac.However, Chinese astrology does in fact incorporate numerous concepts from the Hellenistic zodiac and from Indo-Iranian astrology, including the Nine Luminaries & the 28 Lunar Mansions.The three methods used today for dating important festivals and events are: The Asian zodiac is not based on constellations, as is the Western (Greek/Roman) zodiac.
In the lunar calendar, the new moon (1st of the month), the half-moon of the first quarter (7th or 8th), the full moon (15th), and the half-moon of the last-quarter (22nd or 23rd), are considered sacred days and known as Today, however, the situation is more complicated, for the lunar calendar is used by some locations, while the solar calendar is used by others. It was calibrated to track the waxing and waning phases of the moon, used as a method for counting years, months, days and hours in the Chinese imperial court and civil calendar, and utilized to forecast one’s future and determine one’s character. The Chinese Zodiac is part of an elaborate and laborious system based on Chinese astrology, cosmology, and divination.Then one could say that when one constellation rose in the east at sunset, it was harvest; the rising of another at sunset would indicate planting time and so on.The most important constellations in this connection would be those through which the sun actually passed on its path across the sky. The reason for the twelve is that the phases of the moon were also used to keep time.
The Zodiac’s popularity in Japan peaked during the Edo Era (1600-1868 AD), by which time each of the 12 animals were commonly associated with one of eight Buddhist patron protector deities (four guarding the four cardinal directions and four guarding the four semi-directions; the latter four are each associated with two animals, thus covering all 12 animals). The shrine is the still-popular Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine 銭洗弁財天宇賀福神社 in Kamakura, which is especially popular and reportedly most effective for worshippers on snake days. Some days, like the snake day of the twelve month in the old lunar calendar, are considered unlucky.