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The Shichifukujin

Note: This selection of Words-and-Pictures was made on November 12, 2001, as I visited Japan's Shikoku Pilgrimage.

These Shichifukujin are located at Yashimaji, Temple #84 of Shikoku's famous 88 Temple Pilgrimage. You can read more about my visit there in my Logbook.

I've mentioned these guys one-by-one along the way. Here they are, all together at last.

Ebisu is one of the most popular of the gods, even having a beer named after him! He's usually shown holding a fish and a fishing pole, and is considered to be especially good for prosperity in business, including the fishing business (of course).

Daikoku usually has a "lucky hammer" which brings wealth, and he stands on bales of rice and carries a treasure sack. Obviously, he brings wealth, and so is often depicted with Ebisu in shops and businesses. He's also a god of kitchens.

Fukurokuju is a god of longevity, virility, and wisdom--like any good Chinese hermit. He always has a long, dome-shaped head, a cane with a scroll (containing all the world's wisdom) tied to it, and a folding fan.

Benzaiten, also called Benten, is the only woman in the bunch, so she's often placed in the center. She is a muse--an inspirer of art and music--so she's often shown with a biwa, or Japanese lute. A white snake is her familiar.

Bishamon is a god of war, and he dresses the part. He is also one of the Shitenno, featured in another Words and Pictures today. He carries a pagoda (wealth-giving, of course) to signify his Buddhist connections.

Jurojin is also a god of longevity. I often confuse him with Fukurokuju. Like Fukurokuju, he carries a staff with a scroll attached, but this scroll contains the lifespan of all living things. Although they're not shown here, he is usually accompanied by a deer--symbol of longevity--and perhaps another long-lived animal such as a turtle or crane.

Hotei is a happy guy--in fact, the god of happy guys. Perhaps the most popular of the Fukujin, he always has a big smile--and a big belly, for all the world to see. He carries a bottomless bag, sort of like Santa Claus (or Felix's "Bag of Tricks" or Doraemon's "Pocket"). He is also one Japanese version of the Chinese Mi-le-fo.

Posted October 15, 2019

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