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Seven Lucky Gods explained

Living in Japan means that you will eventually encounter the legendary Seven Lucky Gods. We all know that 7 is a lucky number and the Japanese agree with us on this. What is so magical about number 7? Agent 007, seven dwarfs, seven colors of the rainbow, Seven Samurai and many other examples show that people often choose 7 over other numbers. In Chinese culture the number is strongly connected with the ideology of Confucianism, and in Buddhism there are seven reincarnations.

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Seven Lucky Gods or Shichi-Fuku-Jin (七福神) is a group of deities, often depicted on a treasure ship (takara-bune). They are not real gods, and are often depicted in a funny way, but they are very important when it comes to certain holidays. It is believed that they arrive each New Year’s Eve on their ship to dispense happiness and luck.

With the exception of Ebisu, who is originally Japanese, the gods came to Japan from China and India. Ebisu is a god of fishermen and wealth and he is depicted holding a seabream. Sometimes his name is mentioned in a story about the first child of Izanami and Izanagi. Daikokuten is a god of wealth and commerce, and also a household deity. He came from China, but originally is the Indian deity Shiva.

Benzaiten (Benten) is a goddess of everything that flows, including water, music and art. She is the only female deity among the Seven Lucky Gods. Hotei used to be monk in China. He is a god of abundance and joy. He has a big belly and is usually laughing, and is sometimes mistaken for Gautama Buddha.

P1140643__1443075572_24751IMG_8753__1443076022_53844Jurojin is a god of wealth, wisdom and longevity from China. Fukurokuju is also a god of longevity and they have a similar appearance and accessories.

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Bishamon (also Bishamonten) is a Buddhist deity from India, one of the Four Heavenly Kings. A small pagoda in his left hand symbolizes treasure and good fortune which he gives to worthy people and a sword or pike in his right hand is meant to protect them and their treasure.P1140644__1443075813_72194FullSizeRender__3___1443076176_92403

Article by Olga Kaneda

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