Shichi Fukujin is usually translated as “Seven Spirits of Good Fortune,” but literally means “Seven Happiness Beings.” Six are male and one is female (Benten). Each is an important, powerful spirit. They hail from different traditions. Unlike the comparable Seven African Powers, they do not all derive from the same spiritual base. Some are Shinto, some Buddhist; Hotei originally derives from Chinese Taoist traditions, but wherever they came from, all are now significant to Japanese folk religion.
The seven sail into our realm during New Year’s festivities to distribute gifts to the worthy. Place an image of the treasure ship complete with all Shichi Fukujin under your pillow on New Year’s Eve to receive a lucky dream.
Each of the Shichi Fukujin is venerated independently. Some are also venerated in smaller groupings. (Daikoku and Ebisu are frequently paired.) They are most frequently depicted all together sailing on their treasure ship, the Takarabune. The Seven Spirits provide blessings of health, happiness, protection, and longevity and everything that is good and desirable in life. If invoked together, they are able to provide all blessings.
The Shichi Fukujin are:
Their imagery is ubiquitous in Japan, extending even as far as on children’s underwear. Next time you’re in a Japanese restaurant, look around: it’s likely that you’ll find the Shichi Fukujin in residence. Envision yourself cruising along with them, and beseech their blessings.
Shichi Fukujin sushi is a bountiful roll containing seven smaller rolls.
Iconography: Many prints and sculptures depict the seven sailing on their treasure ship on the Sea of Good Fortune. Individual altar images are also available.
Sacred sites: A pilgrimage route in Kamakura, Japan, involves visiting seven shrines, each associated with one of the Shichi Fukujin.
See also: Eight Immortals; Fukusuke; Inari; Seven African Powers; Shoojoo and the entries for each of the individual Shichi Fukujin
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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