The animals include the rat (nezumi), ox (ushi), tiger (tora), rabbit (usagi), dragon (tatsu), snake (hebi), horse (uma), sheep (hitsuji), monkey (saru), rooster (tori), dog (inu), and the boar (inoshishi).
New Year cards could also have the sheep design on the envelope with the New Year greeting or the stamps that are issued from the post office has designs of the sheep. Since the sheep is not a native of Japan there is kind of an exotic feel to it and because of its historical background many people associate the sheep with Western culture more than the other animals.
This year there is a special event at the stock farm in Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture that had an event for the first time where a dog herded 80 sheep past visitors. Since it is year of the sheep and they are the zodiac symbol for this year it is a good thing to see them.
In Japanese, a sheep is “hitsuji” in romaji, and is written as “羊” in kanji.
Here are some personality traits of the year of the sheep. They are caring, considerate, passionate, artistic, nature-loving, and they worry unnecessarily.
Are you the year of the sheep? Let us know in the comments below!