Monday, May 26, 2008

 

Seven Luck Gods



This is the view from the breakfast room of the Tokyo Metropolitan Marunouchi. You can see the old Meiji period red brick Tokyo station building off to the right (currently undergoing renovation), plenty of tall buildings and lots of rail tracks used by the bullet train.



The room also has these odd pillar-like things, with little illuminated statues. When I looked closely at one, I realized that it was an abstract sculpture of Hotei, one of the 7 luck gods of Japan. I then went on a hunt to photograph them all and the very nice maitre d' opened up a banquet room so I could snap the last one of the pantheon.



The 7 luck gods usually look something like this. But the artist who put together these pieces for the hotel was after a completely different aesthetic.



Here's the aforementioned Hotei, god of abundance and wealth.



Ebisu, god of merchants, shares his name with a beer and a fashion label.



Fukurokuju is the god of happiness, wealth and longevity.



Jurojin governs wisdom.



Daikokuten is the god of commerce and trade.



Bishamonten is the warrior god who protects the north; he's also the god of warriors. I like him.



Benzaiten is the only goddess of the group and she supports all the arts and beauty. Obviously I like her too.

Comments:
Hi Mari-chan.
This is Yukihiko, husband of Masako.
Do you remember me?

I'm interested in 7 luck gods, Shichifukujin, too.
As you know, Jikokuten, Zouchouten, Koumokuten, and Bishamonten are the gods who protect each directions, ie. east, south, west, and north. But why is only Bishamonten chosen as a member of Shichifukujin?
Why is only Benzaiten chosen as the goddess though there are many goddess in Japan?
Do you think it is strange?
 
Hello Yukihiko-san! Of course I remember you!

You ask very good questions, but I do not know the answers. It is very strange that only Bishamonten is one of the 7 luck gods.

I read somewhere the Kichijoten is sometimes included as a shichi-fuku-jin. In that case, there would be 2 goddesses.

In general, though, there are now more gods than goddesses. I think that historians argue about this, but at some point in history, society switched from a matriarchy to a patriarchy which in a very general sense would explain the presence of more gods than goddesses. In Christianity, for example, much of the language is about and for men.

Japan is interesting because you still have Amaterasu, even though so much of the country is very Buddhist.

Thank you for commenting on my blog. Please say hello to your family. I hope to visit later this year and have some time to actually talk.
 
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