Origin Of The Japanese Gods Of Luck

A review of the seven gods of luck and happiness in Japanese culture, and how they affect our lives.

Each culture has its various beliefs of different ways to gather luck: finding a four-leaf clover, picking up a penny, rubbing Buddha's belly, and hundreds more. Every culture recognizes the importance of luck, and most cultured generally accept that you have to gather luck any way you can.

In Japan, a major part of their historical culture is the worship of a group of gods called the Shichifukujin, seven gods who control different aspects of happiness through luck. The first of these gods, Hotei, is the god of simple happiness and joy, a god who resembles Buddha, and is shown to have a huge stomach. His stomach represents the greatness of his soul, and he carries a large sack full of treasure.

The next god in the group is Bishamon, the god of luck in battle and defense. His main appearance is that of man carrying a spear and a pagoda, and he is thought of as a defender of peace, from warlike enemies. Following Bishamon is Benten, the only woman in the group. She is the goddess of luck in love, the arts, music, and literature. She represents all womanly aspects, and is always seen with a sea serpent and playing a Japanese lute (biwa).

Daikoku is the patron of farmers and the god of luck in wealth and money matters. All those who desire good fortune with money worship him, and he is shown carrying a mallet that can spill forth any treasure a man might seek. A good match for Daikoku is Ebisu, the god of fishermen and hard work. He also believes in people having what they need, but he is primarily an advocate of people who work hard for what they have.

Next is Jurojin, the god of luck through wisdom and old, old age. He is depicted as an ancient man surrounded by wild animals, whom we takes care of. He is the dispenser of wisdom, and the caretaker of peaceful creatures. Finally, the last god is Fukurokujo, the god of miracles. He originated as a Chinese philosopher who performed miracles for kings, and in the Shichifukujin, he represents all sorts of miracles and amazing events. He is shown as a man with short legs and a short chest, and a very large head.

Each of the gods represents different aspects of luck, and they must all receive equal worship to dispense equal benefit. Someone who worships Ebisu a lot will have plenty of food, but without worshipping Benten as well, they will have no wife to share the food with. The Shichifukujin are worshipped year round, and each individual god has a shrine to his or herself. In Japan, it is often a pilgrimage for people to travel around to all seven shrines, worshipping each god one at a time. All seven are worshipped together on December 31, when they come to earth in their magic ship to dispense gifts to all the mortals.

Anyone seeking luck can call upon these gods, and they love attention. If you share your attention among them, you'll have good luck in all things, but if you give your worship to only one, the rest of the luck will pass you by.

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