The land of the rising sun is home to a number of gods and deities which depict several meanings to the Japanese people and their culture. But there are actually seven popular gods in Japan known as the Shichi Fukujin or the Seven Lucky Gods that represent different types of luck and virtues since the 15th century. This gallery showcases all of the Seven Lucky Gods.
These Seven are Ebisu, Daikokuten (or Daikoku), Benzaiten (or Benten), Bishamonten (or Bishamon), Fukurokuju, Jurojin, and Hotei Sama. They are represented in various forms of artwork - statues, carvings, paintings, etc. This gallery includes figurines of different mediums (ivory, wood, porcelain, ceramic, etc.) in order for the viewer to get a sense of some of their forms and closer details. All of these Gods symbolize important, positive qualities that are integrated within the Japanese cultures. These Gods are honored through celebrations and shrines. They are not forgotten.
There are traditions in Japan in which the Seven Lucky Gods are involved. Japanese children are told to place a picture of the seven gods aboard their treasure ship, under their pillow on the night of the new year. It is said that if the person sees a lucky dream, he or she will have a good year ahead of them. However, if that person has a bad dream, it is said that if the person who had the dream lets the picture drift in a river, the person’s luck will change for that year. One tradition that also takes place around the first week of the year is the Shichi Fukujin Meguri or the Pilgrimage to the temple and shrines dedicated to the Seven Lucky Gods. Families visit each one to pay their respects to the gods in the hope of receiving good fortune. In the old days, people would do the pilgrimage tour on foot but with modernization in Japan, people can go by car or bus, making it easier to visit every location in less time.
Rubbing of statues is a practice in many countries, but Japan is especially fond of this tradition. There are many shrines in Japan that are dedicated to the Seven Lucky Gods where you can visit. The Seven Lucky Gods have also become a popular image of souvenir items for both the Japanese and tourists as well. Even in modern times, the impact these gods have still remains strong in Japan.Cartwright, Mark. “Shichi Fukujin,” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified June 24, 2013. http://www.ancient.eu /Shichi_Fukujin/
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