In Japan, the lunar calendar was abandoned in 1872 in favor of the solar (Gregorian) calendar, but even today many temples and shrines continue to use the lunar calendar for important festivals and events. Your sign is not the HARE (as shown above), but rather the TIGER. Such bad-luck days, and there are many, are called In the directions column, NE (U) denotes the upper northeast direction, while NE (L) denotes the lower northeast direction. It was probably in Japan’s Edo Period (1603 - 1867 AD) when the 12 zodiac animals were each associated with one specific patron Buddhist deity, the Eight Buddhist Patron Protector Deities. The most plausible reason involves Chinese Taoism, Feng Shui 風水 (geomancy), and divination, for there are eight interrelated symbols (or trigrams) in Chinese cosmology called the Bā Guà (Chn. The eight trigrams symbolize the unceasingly changing balance of forces and are used in divination. The lunar calendar (zodiac calendar) is based on the waxing and waning of the moon.
For details, see Zodiac Lunar Trivia in Japan below. I’m not sure when this system was actually adopted, but the eight include four guarding the four cardinal directions and four guarding the four semi-directions. There are 29 to 30 days per lunar month, with approximately a one-month disparity between the lunar and solar calendars.
The natural way of telling one constellation from another is to notice the pattern of stars in each one.
It was inevitable that as time went on, people would begin to make complicated pictures out of these patterns.
Says famed author Isaac Asimov in Words from the Myths (1963) about the Western zodiac: "The heavens contain thousands of stars.
The easiest way to handle the situation was to divide the stars into convenient groups which are nowadays called 'constellations' (from Latin words meaning 'with stars').
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.
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.
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.