Member of the Shichi Fukujin, he represents longevity, wisdom, and occasionally, carnal pleasure. He is represented as a small-statured man, almost a dwarf, whose bald, hair-fringed head is sometimes the length of his body. He is dressed in Chinese robes and is reputedly the avatar of a Chinese philosopher. The shape of his head evokes the image of a phallus, and he is often displayed in the form of a traditional harigata (dildo), or as a statue of that shape. This may either be a result of the original shape of his head or because of the Chinese association of longevity and Daoist wisdom with sex and the principles of yin and yang (female and male). His image can thus often be found, together with another of the Shichi Fukujin, Jurojin—with whom he is often confused—in Japan’s red-light districts. He is sometimes accompanied by a stag, a symbol of longevity. Fukurokuju is usually portrayed as a jolly, fun-loving deity, more at home in the company of Ebisu and Hπtei than the other more dour of the Shichi Fukujin.
- Joly, Henri L. 1967. Legend in Japanese Art. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co.
Handbook of Japanese Mythology written by Michael Ashkenazi – Copyright © 2003 by Michael Ashkenazi