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The Japanese adopted their Zodiac Calendar in 604.  Each year is named for one of twelve animals.

Chinese legend says that before Buddha departed from earth, only twelve animals came in their devotion to him.  Buddha honored them by naming the years after them in the order they arrived;  the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.

This complete pattern includes the 12 animals, and sashiko designs.