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Words-and-Pictures: The Shichifukujin

(as seen on November 12th, 2001, on the Shikoku stage of the Aki Meguri)

Note: These Shichifukujin are is located at Yashimaji, Temple #84 of Shikoku's famous 88 Temple Pilgrimage.  You can read more about my visit there in my Logbook, or go to the Shikoku homepage to read about the entire journey.

I've mentioned these guys one-by-one along the way. Here they are, all together at last.

Ebisu is one of the most popular of the gods, even having a beer named after him!  He's usually shown holding a fish and a fishing pole, and is considered to be especially good for prosperity in business, including the fishing business (of course). Daikoku usually has a "lucky hammer" which brings wealth, and he stands on bales of rice and carries a treasure sack.  Obviously, he brings wealth, and so is often depicted with Ebisu in shops and businesses.  He's also a god of kitchens. Fukurokuju is a god of longevity,  virility, and wisdom--like any good Chinese hermit. He always has a long, dome-shaped head, a cane with a scroll (containing all the world's wisdom) tied to it, and a folding fan. Benzaiten, also called Benten, is the only woman in the bunch, so she's often placed in the center.  She is a muse--an inspirer of art and music--so she's often shown with a biwa, or Japanese lute.  A white snake is her familiar. Bishamon is a god of war, and he dresses the part.  He is also one of the Shitenno, featured in another Words and Pictures today.   He carries a pagoda (wealth-giving, of course) to signify his Buddhist connections. Jurojin is also a god of longevity.  I often confuse him with Fukurokuju.  Like Fukurokuju, he carries a staff with a scroll attached, but this scroll contains the lifespan of all living things.  Although they're not shown here, he is usually accompanied by a deer--symbol of longevity--and perhaps another long-lived animal such as a turtle or crane. Hotei is a happy guy--in fact, the god of happy guys.  Perhaps the most popular  of the Fukujin, he always has a big smile--and a big belly, for all the world to see.  He carries a bottomless bag, sort of like Santa Claus (or  Felix's "Bag of Tricks" or Doraemon's "Pocket").  He is also one Japanese version of the Chinese Mi-le-fo.
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