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Japanese Mythology & Folklore

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Mythic Texts and Folktales:
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Folklorists
Kunio Yanagita, Keigo Seki, Lafcadio Hearn, Shigeru Mizuki, Inoue Enryo

The Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神 Shichi Fukujin ?), commonly referred to in English as the Seven Lucky Gods, refer to the seven gods of good fortune in Japanese mythology and folklore. They are often the subject of netsuke carvings and other representations.

Each has a traditional attribute:

  1. Hotei, the fat and happy god of abundance and good health
  2. Jurōjin, god of longevity
  3. Fukurokuju, god of happiness, wealth and longevity
  4. Bishamonten, god of warriors
  5. Benzaiten (Benten-sama), goddess of knowledge, art and beauty, especially music
  6. Daikokuten (Daikoku), god of wealth, commerce and trade. Ebisu and Daikoku are often paired and represented as carvings or masks on the walls of small retail shops
  7. Ebisu, god of fishers or merchants, often depicted carrying a sea bream
From left to right: Hotei, Jurōjin, Fukurokuju, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Daikokuten, Ebisu.

Many figures in Japanese myth were transmitted from China (some having entered China from India), including all of the Seven Lucky Gods except Ebisu. Another god, Kichijōten, goddess of happiness, is sometimes found depicted along with the seven traditional gods, replacing Jurōjin. The reasoning being that Jurōjin and Fukurokuju were originally manifestations of the same Taoist deity, the Southern Star. However, as is often the case in folklore, Japanese gods sometimes represent different things in different places.

The seven gods are often depicted on their ship, the Takarabune (宝船), or "Treasure Ship." The tradition holds that the seven gods will arrive in town on the New Year and distribute fantastic gifts to worthy people. Children often receive red envelopes emblazoned with the Takarabune which contain gifts of money around the New Year. The Takarabune and its passengers are often depicted in art in varied locations, from the walls of museums to cuddly caricatures.

In popular culture

The Seven Lucky Gods, in an 1882 print by Yoshitoshi.
  • Happy Seven is an anime about a school club consisting of seven girls, having each one a different power of the Seven Gods of Fortune.
  • The Seven Gods of Fortune appear in the video game Pocky & Rocky 2 for the Super Nintendo.
  • The main group of villains in the Ranma ½ movie Big Trouble in Nekonron, China call themselves the Seven Lucky Gods Martial Artists and are based on them, but with different names.
  • A song with the name 七福神 with a background movie parodying the Seven Gods of Fortune is available in Drummania V3 [1]
  • A character in Dan Brown's Deception Point prays to the "seven deities of good luck" at one point, but uses the term shichigosan, which actually refers to the festivals for children of the special ages of seven, five, and three.
  • The Seven Lucky Gods are boss characters in Keio Flying Squadron.
  • Pink film directors Toshiya Ueno, Shinji Imaoka, Yoshitaka Kamata, Toshiro Enomoto, Yūji Tajiri, Mitsuru Meike and Rei Sakamoto are known collectively as the "Seven Lucky Gods of Pink" (ピンク七福神 pinku shichifukujin ?).[2]

Notes

External references

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Simple English

The Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神 Shichi Fukujin?), commonly called the Seven Lucky Gods in English, refer to the seven gods of good fortune in Japanese mythology and folklore. They are often the subject of netsuke carvings.

Each has a traditional characteristic:

  1. Ebisu, god of fishers or merchants, often shown carrying a cod or sea bass.
  2. Daikokuten (Daikoku), god of wealth, commerce and trade. Ebisu and Daikokuten are often paired and represented as carvings or masks on the walls of small retail shops.
  3. Bishamonten, god of warriors.
  4. Benzaiten (Benten-sama), goddess of knowledge, art and beauty,especially Music.
  5. Fukurokuju, god of happiness, wealth and long life.
  6. Hotei, the fat and happy god of abundance and good health.
  7. Jurōjin (Gama), god of long life.


Many figures in Japanese myth were transmitted from China (some having entered China from India), including all of the Seven Lucky Gods except Ebisu. Another god, Kichijōten, goddess of happiness, is sometimes found depicted along with the seven traditional gods, replacing Jurōjin.

The seven gods are often pictured on their ship, the Takarabune (宝船), or "Treasure Ship." The tradition says that the seven gods will arrive in town on the New Year and distribute fantastic gifts to worthy people. Children often receive red envelopes bearing the Takarabune which contain gifts of money around the New Year. The Takarabune and its passengers are often shown in art in different locations, from the walls of museums to cuddly caricatures.

References in Popular Culture

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  • Happy Seven is an anime about a school club made up of seven girls, having each one a different power of the Seven Gods of Fortune.
  • The Seven Gods of Fortune appear in the video game Pocky & Rocky 2 for the Super Nintendo.
  • The main group of villains in the Ranma 1/2 movie Big Trouble in Nekonron, China call themselves the Seven Lucky Gods Martial Artists and are based on them, but with different names.
  • A song with the name 七福神 with a background movie parodying the Seven Gods of Fortune is available in Drummania V3 [1]
  • A character in Dan Brown's Deception Point prays to the "seven deities of good luck" at one point, but uses the term shichigosan, which actually refers to the festivals for children of the special ages of seven, five, and three.
  • Pink film directors Toshiya Ueno, Shinji Imaoka, Yoshitaka Kamata, Toshiro Enomoto, Yuji Tajiri, Mitsuru Meike and Rei Sakamoto are known collectively as the "Seven Lucky Gods of Pink" (ピンク七福神 pinku shichifukujin?).[1]

Notes

Other websites

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