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.
The former is based on a lunar year and five 12-year sub-cycles, while the latter revolves around a 12-month solar year.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.As a result, most marriages were between individuals who were not only of the same religion, but also of the same denomination, sect, or tradition within the same religion.With the large scale abandonment by older teens and young adults of organized religion, and the rise of dating sites and social media on the Internet, more single people are meeting others from different denomination and even from different religions.