Hello everyone and welcome to the first article of the Wasanbon series!
Today I will try to explain to you simply and briefly the story of the Seven Lucky Gods!
The origin of the Seven Lucky Gods is quite diverse because it mixes Hindu, Chinese, and Buddhist mythology but also and of course Japanese myths with Shintō.
The first two deities to be worshipped by Japanese people were Daikokuten and Ebisu, deities of marriage and business, so consequently, the gods who protect the nobility and merchants. Gradually, other professions also wanted deities to protect their activities, and so the list of deities grew to seven, with Bishamonten, the god of war and victory, Jurojin, the god of longevity, Benzaiten, the god of financial fortune, Fukurokuju, the god of happiness, and Hotei, the god of fertility.
They are often depicted on their treasure ship (“Takarabune” in Japanese). It is said that on December 31st, they distribute treasures to the lucky ones who meet them.
The Seven Lucky Gods have been represented in art from the 16th century. It was a request by Tokugawa Ieyasu, an important Japanese daimyo (= a powerful Japanese feudal) who became after shogun (=the strongest political figure after the Emperor).
Today there are still worshipped by Japanese people and those gods are often represented in Japanese pop culture and other types of art!