Japan Marks The Year Of The Sheep In The Most Japanese Way Possible

Jan 11, 2015 at 11:04 AM ET

Across East Asia, observers of the Chinese Zodiac are celebrating the coming Year of the Sheep—a time in that 12-symbol, 12-year cycle that is purportedly blessed with peace and harmony. In Japan, this means stamps, postcards and a healthy bit of cosplay, all centered around the cuddly creature.

Upholding the long-standing Japanese tradition of sending New Year’s greetings through the mail, the Japanese postal service has rolled out a new set of holiday postcards, or nengajou, adorned with a stamp of a sheep wearing a scarf. This is a sequel of sorts: The stamp for the last Year of the Sheep, in 2003, showed one of the animals knitting. According to the Japan Post Service website, the sheep has finished making the scarf he was working on 12 years ago. This is reportedly the first time a design has referenced a previous nengajou stamp.


Sheep-themed cosplay is also big this year. On nengajou and New Year social posts all over Japan, people are not only sending pictures of themselves dressed in sheep costumes, they’re also sharing photos of their dogs, cats and children wrapped in similarly wooly outfits. Long after nengajou season, the parade of cosplay sheep continues on social media.

This is not the first time the Japanese have uploaded zodiac-related animal photos for the new year. The scale of the response to the Year of the Sheep, however, seems much larger than 2014’s Year of the Horse celebration, primarily because sheep are adorbs, whereas horses are not.