I often think that we learn much from the beliefs of other cultures. I think it is a wonderful thought to have a large group of gods whose job is to manage luck. They called “happiness beings”
七福神 Shichi Fukujin.
Most Americans have probably seen Hotei, the big-bellied happy god. That’s pretty much the American dream…to be fat and happy. They apparently do everything together, even making food. At New Years, they ride on a dragon to bring presents and good luck. There are many images of them, even hello kitty representations. I just have to smile, because they do their job so well.
From Dieter Wanczura’s website on Japanese Mythology, here are their names with their domains.
The Goddess of luck, love, eloquence, wisdom and the fine arts. Benten is the patron of the geishas and the art folks. She is shown with eight arms riding on a dragon.
Bishamon is the patron of the warriors. Therefore he is shown in full armor with a spear in his hand. In one of the pictures below, his other hand is a pen. Apparently both are seen as weapons in Japan too.
He is the god of wealth and the patron of the farmers. His attributes are a sack of rice and rats and he is shown as a fat man (for prosperity and wealth).
Ebisu is the son of Daikoku and the patron of the fishermen. He is shown with a huge carp and a rod for fishing. He was worshipped by the fishermen and had a temple in the coastal region near Osaka.
Like Daikoku, he stands for wealth. But he is also the god of laughter and happiness by being content with what you have. He is depicted as a laughing fat man with a bag of rice over his shoulders and kids. On some pictures, he is shown sitting in a cart drawn by children.
The god of wisdom, good luck and longevity. He is shown with a very high forehead. Mostly he is accompanied with a stag, a symbol of longevity, sometimes by a tortoise and a crane.
The god of longevity and happiness in your old days. The attributes in his company are a tortoise and a crane. And he is depicted with a smile on his face. Another happy old man!
I think it is very interesting that only one of these deities is female. It makes me wonder if she is Wendy to the lost boy gods? I did n’t find any stories of them, but I will start looking, as they are just the kind of deitites I’d like to know more about. How about you?