Who are The Lucky Seven Japanese Gods?

Do you know what Seven Lucky Gods is? In Japan, it is called Shichifukujin(七福神). Those gods are said that they will bring us good fortune! Those gods came from Buddhist culture and Buddhist people really respect them!

Especially, in Japan, as they are symbols of fortune, they have been loved by Japanese people. I think they are most popular gods in Japan! There are many temples which offer those gods. There are many people who go to temples to put hands together for them every new year.

Today, I want to introduce you guys to Shichifukujin! I hope you will enjoy reading this page! Σd(´∀`)!

 

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History of The Lucky Seven Japanese Gods

 

Hieizan Enryakuji Amida Dou

Since they are gods of Buddha, they are mostly from India. But some gods are from Japan and China. I will talk about the introduction of them later.

When Japan was Heian period(794-1185), Saichou who was a monk of Buddha spread Daikokuten(one of the seven gods) around in Japan. He went to China to learn Buddhism, came back to Japan and built Hieizan Enryakuji(in Shiga prefecture). Hieizan Enryakuji is his temple and still exist in Japan. He is officially founder of this temple.

Ebisu(one of seven lucky gods)is originally from Japan. This god is indigenous belief in Japan from a long time ago. Ebisu and Daikokuten were put together and Japanese started to believe both together but unfortunately, there is not a historical sequence of this event so, I think they were put together naturally and started to spread around in Japan.  This is a start of Shichifukujin in Japan.

After Heian period, another one of seven gods added to those two. That was Bishamonten(one of the seven gods). The belief of Bishamonten started in Kurama, Kyoto prefecture and three gods became a set to believe.

But later in the Heian period(794-1185) and first the of the Kamakura period(1185-1333), the belief of Benzaiten(one of the seven gods) became popular in Chikubu Shima, Oumi(now, Shiga prefecture) and sometimes, there were a set of gods Daikokuten, Ebisu, and Benzaiten or Bishamonten. This case happened in Japan.

In Muromachi period(1336–1573), Japan had many influences of Buddhism and Taoism from China. This movement sent Japan three extra god’s from China. They are called Hotei, Juroujin, and Fukurokuju. Hotei is from Buddhism and Juroujin and Fukurokuji are from Taoism.

Now, seven gods are a set! This is how they put all seven gods together and started to believe in them together!

(Until Edo period(1603–1868), those seven gods were switched around with other gods. But while Edo period, it is said that they are formed this way.)

 

Who are The Lucky Seven Japanese Gods?

 

Shichifukujin is made of seven gods. Shichi means seven in Japanese. Fuku is luck and Jin is a god.

 

Ebisu(恵比寿)

This god is originally from Japan. It is said that he is Hiruko no Mikoto(蛭子尊) who is a son of Izanami no Mikoto(伊弊舟尊) and Izanagi no Mikoto(伊弊諾尊).

He is usually depicted with a big red snapper and fishing pole. He wears Eboshi(a type of headgear worn by court nobles) and Kariginu(informal clothes worn by the nobility from the Heian period onwards).

At first, Ebisu was a guardian for fishers but later on, Ebisu became a god for business too.

He is a god for getting a big catch for fish, prosperous business, huge harvest.

 

Daikokuten(大黒天)

He is a god of Hinduism. Daikokuten derives from Mahākāla. His existence came from Japan as the guardian of Buddhism but later on, Ookuninushi no Mikoto(大国主命) from Japanese mythology linked with Daikokuten and became to be believed for a god of fortune.

He is usually depicted with Kome Dawara/米俵(a straw rice bag), Uchide no Kozuchi/打ち出の小槌(magic mallet), and a big bag.

He is a god for prosperous business, huge harvest, and perpetuation of our descendants.

 

Bishamonten(毘沙門天)

He is from Hinduism and came from Japan with Buddhism. Bishamonten derives from Kubēra. He is a god of treasure. When Bishamonten spread to China, Chinese believed in him as a god of war and spread to Japan as this way.

Kenshin Uesugi who used to be a Sengoku warrior(samurai in Sengoku period(1467(1493)–1590)) respected Bishamonten.

He is usually depicted with an armor, a pike, and two-storied Buddhist tower.

He is a god for removing evil spirits, a success of martial art, getting along with a relationship between husband and wife, and the wellbeing of our family.

 

Benzaiten(弁財(才)天)

She is the goddess from Hinduism. Benzaiten derives from Sarasvatī. Benzaiten is only the goddess out of all seven gods. Benzaiten is the goddess of water.

She is usually depicted with biwa(Japanese lute) and beauty.

An image of the sound of flowing water sounds like playing an instrument had her to be a goddess of music too.

Benzaiten’s zai is 才in Kanji. 才 means talent in English. As the same pronunciation of 才(zai), 財(zai) is treasure in English. Japanese sometimes express Benzaiten’s kanji as 弁財天 or 弁才天.

She is a goddess for being lucky with money, economic fortune, the accomplishment of study, art, and performance.

 

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Juroujin(寿老人)

Juroujin is a god of Taoism. He is the personification of the southern pole star Canopus. He is a god of life.

He is usually depicted with his long white beard, a hood on his head, his cane, a sacred scripture, peach, and deer.

Peach and deer are the symbols of long life.

He is a god for long life, family happiness, and perpetuation of our descendants.

 

Fukurokuju(福禄寿)

Fukurokuju is a god of Taoism. He is the personification of the southern pole star Canopus like Juroujin. He is a god of fortune, treasure, and health.

Fukurokuju and Juroujin are sometimes believed as the same existence.

He is usually depicted with his long white beard, his cane, a sacred scripture, and crane or turtle.

Crane and turtle are the symbols of long life.

Fukurokuju is a god for long life, family happiness, a perpetuation of our descendants, good health, treasure.

 

Hotei(布袋)

Hotei is only the actual person out of all seven gods. It is said that Hotei is a model for Budai or Putai who used to be a monk in China. He used to travel around China and be treated to food by people. In return, he told them a fortune and his fortune never missed the mark. It’s said that he is the personification of Maitreya.

He is usually depicted with a big smile, big tummy, and a big bag.

It’s said that his big smile has charm and is loved by many people.

He is for our natural qualities, happiness and good fortune, prosperous business, family happiness, and beckoning visitors or customers to your business.

 

Summery

 

Shichifukujin is a group of international gods! Until I searched for it, I didn’t know but it was so interesting to see how the culture of other countries passed on to different countries.Most surprising thing to me was the actual person in seven lucky gods! It’s always good to know something that I don’t know! It was a good study! Shichifukujin makes me want to have statues or figures of them to display in my house! Because I’m wanting for good luck for so long! (*´∀`)

Anyway, let’s call it a day, today!

Ja~~ne~~! ( ´∀`)/~~

 

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