(the Seven Gods of Good Luck)

Takarabune or trasure ship loaded with the Seven
Gods of good luck who carry treasures.
It is said that

if you sleep with a picture of the takarabune ship under
your pillow on the New Year's Day, your first dream of
the year on that night will be an auspicious one.
We call that dream 'Hatsu-yume'(lit. the first dream)

The seven people on the trasure ship with happy face are the six gods and one goddes
called "Shichifukujin/lit. seven dods of good luck" who bring good luck..
It's mixed group of Buddhist, Shintoist, Taoist and Hinduist gods or saints
from India, China and Japan.
This gods's group was formed in the Muromachi period (1392-1573) to compare with them
to the so called "Seven wise men in the bamboo thicket" in China.
They were chosen from Hinduist, Buddhist, Taoist and Shintoist gods or saints, and arranged into Japanised Gods
It has been said that each god gives us the grace of a prosperous business or long life or safe home, etc.
In the Edo period, going around temples and shrines
associated with these gods and praying for their wishes
between gantan (Jan. 1st) and nanakusa no sekku (Jan.7th) became very popular as a good luck event called "Shichifukujin-meguri"
and spreaded all over Japanan.
Even now it's popular among people.

pic name nick name original
grace, etc.
Ebisu Ebessan Japan The God of Fishing, Shipping and Commerce.
He is the only pure Japanese god among seven gods and originaly he had been enshrined in Nishinomiya-Jinja in Hyogo Prefecture.
It is said that he is Ebisu/a son of Izanaginimikoto (father) and Izanaminomikoto (mother), or Kotoshironushinomikoto/a son of Ookuninushinomikoto.
Ebisu is represeted holding a fishiing rod in his right hand and
a large red seabream in his left arm, and wearing kariginu (a kind of hunting kimono in old time) and a special cap called 'kazaore-eboshi'
He has a big smile on his face, so we call a happy smiling face 'Ebisu-gao'/Ebisu face.

Hatsu-Ebisu Festival is held on Jan. 5th in Kami-Chigama-Jinja in Atsuta Shrine.
Talismans of the prosperity on business and safe home are sold from 0:00 a.m. and lots of people come to get them. It is said that if you talk with somebody or drop in some place after you get the talisman, good luck given to you will disappear. Therefore people who get them return home as soon as possible.


Daikokusan India
The god of wealth and farmers.
Daikokuten came from Mahkla, one of the embodiments of Siva (one of the tree great gods of Hinduism,)
Mah means great and kha means black in Sanskrit, and the meanings were directly transposed in Chinese character Daikokuten (大黒天). It is said that when Siva destroys this world, he will make his appearance as Mahkla with his horribly angry face and black body.

Buddhism adopted Mahkla as a god who protect temples, but for some reason
he became a god of kitchen in Japan.
We have had a god called Ookuninushi-no-mikoto (大国主命)who is a Japan original god, and
大国 is also could be read daikoku.
Although Daikokuten should have a stern face, people had mixed up Daikokuten and Ookuninushi-no-mikoto, and his image had been changed. Then he had a smily happy face.
If you see the old stature of Daikokuten, he looks very severe.

There are many types of Daikokuten figure.
For example, he shoulder a big bag filled with trasures and money
and have an uchide-no-kozuchi (a mallet of luck): like an Aladdin's lamp in his hand,
and stands on komedawara (bag of rice)

Benzaiten Bentensan India The goddess of artistic accomplishments.
Benzaiten is commonly called Benten-sama or Benten-san and carries a biwa /Japanese lute.
In India , she carries viná.
She is originally Hindu goddess of water.

Bishamonten (Buddhist name)
India The god of war and warriors.
Bishamonten drives out the god of poverty by his force.
Originally he is a Hindu god Kumbhïra who administers trasure and happiness.
The god of war and warriors.
Bishamonten wears a suit of armor and is armed with a sword.
His face is stern
The epic Mahabharata says that Kumbhïra lives in a Northen Himalayan mountain and guard the North of India.
Buddhism adopted him as one of the four gods to protect the directions.
He is know as Tamonten and guard the North.
Fukurokuju - China

The god of longevity.
Fukurokuju is identifiable as Jurojin.
In the Carina, there is the second brightest star called Canopus in the sky following after Sirius (except the sun.)
It's located at lat. 51°40' S, so even in Tokyo (lat.36°N) it's at approximately 2°from the holizon and very difficult to view.
By this reason, in Japan it was said that if you view this star you will get long life. Besides, in Chinese legend it is called a star of "god of longevity" or "an Atrantic old star" because it is shining in red by the low angle.
Then Canopus was apotheosized to Fukurokuju/Jurojin.
( In 12,000 years, Canopus will be the South Star/the South Polestar.)

During the Sungs period in China, Jurojin had drawn in different figure with an elongated bald head, long white beards short old man. That was Fukurokuju.
Crains and turtles are his messenger...
Jurojin - China A god of lonevity and wisdom.
As I explain above, an apotheosized star is he.

In the T'ang-Dynasty in China, he had started to be drawn as a old man with a scholar's cap, fan, long white beards, and often accompanied by a stag (his messenger).
It is said that if you eat the meat of this stag, you will get 2,000 years life.
He also has a stic and a scroll written each person's human life span is tied on it.
Hotei Hotei-san China
The god of happiness.
It is said that he is the only one who existed among the seven gods.
His model are four Zen monks in T'ang-Dynasty in China.
They had big fat bellies and always half naked.
They tramped with sticks and big bags.
They had second sight.

Ichi Fuji, Ni Taka, San Nasubi (The best Hatsu-yume)