This year is the year of wild boar and the year that comes will be the year of mouse. Though zodiacs have become something familiar to us, there is an old tale associated with the beginning of zodiacs.
Long, long ago, the heavenly god has gathered all animals on the last day of the year and said, "On the morning of the New Year's Day, come to my place. The first to the twelfth to come in shall become the leaders on an annual rotating basis." Animals impatiently waited until the next morning, enthusiastic to arrive first.
However, the cat completely forgot what God had told him, so he asked the mouse when he should visit God's place. The mouse intentionally told the cat the day after the actual day, and the cat, not knowing the truth returned to his home in high delight.
On New Year's Day, the slowest animal, the cow, departed his place before dawn towards God's place. The mouse, who was watching the cow leaving his home, jumped on top of the cow's back without being noticed.
When the cow reached God's place, the door wasn't even open yet. The cow surely thought that he was the first to come and excitedly waited for the door to open.
In the morning of the New Year's Day, as the door noisily opens, the mouse took the opportunity to jump off the cow and to walk through the gate first. The cow, unfortunately, arrived second. Consequently, the tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog, and wild boar arrived one after another, and the twelve animals that are allowed to become leaders of the following years have been decided.
The cat who arrived at God's place the day after naturally has lost the race, and since then, the angry cat has come to chase around the mouse.
At Shokunin.com, we sell some products using the twelve Japanese zodiacs as a motif. Not only could it be used when sending this year's or your friend's zodiacs, however, they are also recommended as birthday gifts, gifts for a sixtieth birthday celebration, and other gifts celebrating various stages of life. Please take a look.
Otera Kohachiro Shoten's Mini Eto Series
Eto Information Website (Reference)