Do you want to know more about the tradition of the Seven Gods of Luck? Here’s a great page rom the online A to Z Photo Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist Statuary:
- The Shichifukujin 七福神 are an eclectic group of deities from Japan, India, and China. Only one is native to Japan (Ebisu) and Japan’s indigenous Shintō tradition. Three are from the Hindu-Buddhist pantheon of India (Daikokuten, Bishamonten, & Benzaiten) and three from Chinese Taoist-Buddhist traditions (Hotei, Jurōjin, & Fukurokuju). In Japan, they travel together on their treasure ship (Takarabune) and visit human ports on New Year’s Eve to dispense happiness to believers. Each deity existed independently before Japan’s “artificial” creation of the group. The origin of the group is unclear, although most scholars point to the Muromachi Era (1392-1568) and the 15th century. Today, images of the seven appear with great frequency in Japan. By the 19th century, most major cities had developed special pilgrimage circuits for the seven. These pilgrimages remain well trodden today, but many people now use cars, buses, and trains to move between the sites.
Click the link to read more of an excellent discussion of the history and traditions related to the Shichi Fukujin, with lots of wonderful pictures!
(Note–the link leads to a commercial site that is not associated to Stillpoint Digital Press.)