Index Sake Jap. Food Jap. Seasons Travel in Japan Jap. Temples Jap. Literature Jap. In Japan, "Shichifukujin" are the seven gods kami who are said to bring wealth and long life. This includes gods and sages of Indian, Chinese and Japanese origin; one of them is a historical person.
Ad Blankestijn: The Seven Deities of Good Fortune (Shichifukujin)
These deities are all in the order of syncretistic folk religion rather than pure Shinto or Buddhism of course, in pre-modern times pure forms of these religions didn't exist, everything was mixed together in the most folksy way. The Seven Lucky Gods of Japan are extremely auspicious.
Originally they were seen separately. During the 15 th centuries the seven gods started appearing as a group. The Seven Lucky Gods consists of six gods and one goddess. Benten — the goddess and patron of preforming art, music, painters, writers, geisha, sculptures, beauty and knowledge.
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Bishamon — the patron god of missionaries, priests, soldiers and doctors. Daikoku — the patron god of business, financiers, trade and farmers. Ebisu — the patron god of fair trade, fishers, sailors, wealth, sincerity and good fortune. Fukurokuju — the patron god of magicians, watchmakers, jewelers, athletes, and chess players. Hotei — the patron god of cooks, children, understandings, health and prosperity. Jurojin — the patron god of politicians, teachers, philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, inventors, judges, fortunetellers, and bartenders.
Benten is the only goddess among the Seven Lucky Gods. She is obviously easy to recognize as she is the only female in the group. She is also known as Benzaiten. Benten is most often seen carrying a musical instrument called a biwa. She came from India originally.
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In India she was known as the angel Sarasvati. She was associated with all virtues in movement and in progress. This could be speech, music, preforming arts, knowledge and so on. She was in India considered a goddess of fortune. The Sarasvati goddess became known in Japan as early as the 6 th century. They called her Benten or Benzaiten.
In Japan many of her faithful followers were musicians and therefore became the protector of music amongst other virtues. Benten used to be known as a jealous goddess. Female musician who played in the royal courts used to believe that if they got married Benten would take away their talent and they would no longer be able to play the biwa in court successfully.
Benten is sometimes shown with white snakes. These snakes are her messengers.
Bishamon came from India to Japan just like Benten did. Bishamon was called Vaisravana in India. He was the god of good fortune, treasures and happiness. In others words a highly auspicious god. The Japanese saw him in a slightly different light. They made him a guardian of the Buddhist faith. He was named Bishamon.
His formal name is Bishamonten. He is the guardian of Buddha.
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He is tall and has a beard. He may be seen wearing armor and a helmet. He often holds a halberd in one hand. In his other hand he carries the wealth treasure tower. The treasures he offers are not materialistic. They are the treasures of honor, respect, faith and happiness. Bishamon was the protector against all evil. Sickness is also considered an evil he protects against. For this reason he is a favorite among many health care workers.
Bishamon fights all evil. He will defend the good, but he will never attack. The origin of Daikoku is not agreed upon. Some say he originally came from India. Others claim he was one of the prehistoric rulers of Japan. Daikoku is often seen in close relationship to Ebisu. Many shop owners may favor both Daikoku and Ebisu equally. Daikoku is shown holding a magical golden mallet of wealth. He is short and has a pointed beard.
He is often shown with a big smile on his face. His flat hat is special. It is a kind of beret called Daikoku-Zukin. Daikoku may be seen holding a sack. This sack is filled with treasures and valuables. Daikoku is a wealth god who brings good fortune. Daikoku is especially popular among business people and farmers.
They naturally will honor him when their crop has been harvested. Daikoku also has a reputation of chasing away demons. For this task he used a branch from a sacred tree in his garden. Around New Year many Japanese have a tradition of hanging branches by the entrance of their home. This may represent the sacred branch belonging to Daikoku. Ebisu is native of Japan, an authentic Japanese god.
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He is the god of wealth and good fortune. He is also the god of fair dealings.
Ebisu loves to fish. It was told that Ebisu went to the stream, river, lake or seashore every chance he had to go fishing.