Noragami is a popular series where we see a scattered image of Japanese mythology being shaped into an interesting story of finding the real identity of a small delivery god Yatogami. Taking part in this chase are some of the well-known Gods of Fortune from Japan.
Among these seven Gods, Bishamonten and Ebisu have been present in the series for a long time. But do you know who the other five Gods of Fortune in Noragami are? In this article, I will discuss about them in detail!
The Shichifukujin(七福神) or the Seven Gods of Fortune are seven specific gods that people have worshipped for thousands of years. We see them on a boat called, Takarabune (宝船), or Treasure Ship that roam around the earth to bestow fortune on people during the first three days of every New Year.
Most of these Gods come from ancient deities in other cultures such as Hinduism and Chinese Taoism. You might not believe me, but one of the gods was an actual person! Aren’t you curious? So, let’s find out who it is.
Ebisu is one of the most popular gods of fortune in Noragami, second only to maybe Bishamonten. He is a total contrast from the original “laughing diety”. Ebisu in the series appears as a stoic “salaryman” and seemingly humorless God of Fishing and Commerce. Always looking for a way to increase the country’s GDP, Ebisu is one of the familiar Gods among the Seven Gods of Fortune. No wonder, Daikokuten calls him baldy!
Same as the original deity, born to the creators of Japan, previously named Hiruko((蛭子; leech child) was Izanagi and Izanami’s first child. He was born imperfect; without bones(or limbs) in his body because Izanami spoke first during her marriage. Hiruko, the poor child was eventually cast away from Heaven into the sea in a boat of reeds before his third birthday. Later on, Ainu, Ebisu Saburo cared for him and he rose as the god Ebisu for the first time among fishermen.
Dressed like a fisherman, carrying a fishing rod, and a red fish, Ebisu is associated with the abundance of the sea and the luck it takes to bring the surplus home. But another theory suggests, Ebisu as Okuninushi’s son or apprentice; a god known as “Kotoshironushi no Mikoto” who went against the Heavens.
Despite being deaf and crippled he still manages to be a kind god who shares his wealth freely. This trait we can clearly see in Noragami. Ebisu for ages has kept Shinkis who are mostly strays to give them a home, unlike his own mother. His way of thinking is also highly unethical according to the Heavens. He associated himself with the masks and tamed ayakashis which made him replace a lot of times. In Ebisu’s words, he is only doing this to contain all the pain to himself and the world a better place.
I don’t know if chibi Ebi would ever learn to dress properly without Kunimi or Daikokuten always looking after him. That is why we shouldn’t keep them apart right? In a theory, Okuninushi is Ebisu’s father. So, the affection we see between the duo in the series comes naturally I guess.
Daikokuten (大黒天) is a syncretic Japanese deity of fortune and wealth. This deity originated from Mahākāla, the Buddhist version of the Hindu deity Shiva. He often represents himself as the native Shinto god Ōkuninushi.
Ōkuninushi (大国主) is one of the most significant deities in Japanese mythology, being the god of nation-building, farming, business, and medicine, as well as matchmaking.
Although Daikokuten usually pops up as a very wealthy smiling man standing on bags of rice and holding both a fukubukuro (lit. “lucky bag”) and a magic hammer, his other form Okuninushi is less than peaceful. Son of the wild God Susanoo and the youngest of 80 rowdy brothers, Okuninushi is the dark-skinned God who has a kind heart but very much feared by the Heavens.
Quick trivia. Did you see that Daikokuten always keeps petting a white rabbit in Noragami? Well, that is a part of the myth too. This fierce God saved the Hare of Inaba from his heartless brothers when they pulled a prank on the cute fluff. So, as you can imagine the great Daikokuten is really formidable. However, he is also a great softy!
Another story from the myth that came along in the series is the pairing of Daikokuten and Ebisu. Although both of them are independent deities of the Shichifukujin, often people worship them as a pair. It is because Ebisu in some theories is Okuninushi’s son. Thus, in the series as well Adachitoka spared no chance to put in the cute father-son moments to entertain us!
All hail Bishamonten sama!
She is the first among the Seven Gods of Fortune to have appeared in the Noragami series. She is the most beloved beautiful fierce goddess with long blonde hair and an alluring body. However, you’d be surprised to know that her real-world counterpart is a male god. Hiyori notes this once in the series…
At first glance, she might come out only as a badass warrior goddess feared by the Heavens, but if you look closely, she is a mother figure who is intent on protecting the weak. She even possesses a heart that could endure the pain that accompanies being the owner of hundreds of Shinkis at once.
Bishamonten is based on the Buddhist god Vaiśravaṇa which in turn is actually also based on the Hindu god Kubera. Vaiśravaṇa means, “Son of Vishrava”. He is one of the Four Heavenly Kings who rules over the North as a god of generosity which—honestly fits the character of Bishamon in the series; since she is generous in taking in any lost soul to give them a home as one of her shinki.
In Japanese Buddhism, we find Bishamonten as a god of war who punishes all evil-doers; appearing as an armor clad god holding a spear in one hand and a small pagoda on the other. Tamonten (多聞天) is another name that he is known as, for being often seen guarding the places where Buddha would visit to teach.
The Heavens have always considered Bishamon as an outsider with great power for her origin from a foreign land. Thus, when she mistakenly revolted against them the other Gods left no gap in their attacks to bring her down. The irony here is that she might be an outsider per se, but Bishamon has always thought of Japan’s wellness over any other land.
Appearing in the series as an unsatisfied maiden with long maroon hair and honey-golden eyes, and a visible g-clef mark on her left chest, Benzaiten is the other female of the seven gods. Although in Noragami there are two female gods in the Shichifukujin, Benzaiten is the only female deity among the real-life Gods of Fortune!
Benzaiten is also known as Benten. She originated from the Hindu goddess Saraswati who is the goddess of art, wisdom, and music. In the Tokugawa (徳川時代) or Edo Period, she was worshiped as a personification of wisdom. She is often depicted as an ethereal beauty holding a biwa (琵琶) just as Saraswati holds a veena. And her mount is always a white snake or a dragon. Also, many may not know but Benzaiten is a goddess of everything that flows (such as water) and eloquence. This a reference to the sound that something makes when it flows.
We know very little of Benzaiten’s abilities, outside of her popularity as one of the Gods of Fortune. But, she is kind toward shinki and values reputation. She is also capable of being strict with others whenever the image of the seven gods is at stake.
I hope all of you are familiar with the “Laughing Buddha” statue? Well, it was only Hotei the Chinese monk who has climbed up to be one of the Shichifukujins.
Hotei’s name literally means “cloth sack” and it refers to the bag that he always carries as he wanders aimlessly. Budai is the popular name for Hotei who lived around the 10th century in the Wuyue kingdom of China. He is a symbol of contentment and abundance. The nickname “The Laughing Buddha” fits him perfectly to be always smiling even being poor.
Aside from that, he is the god of diviners and barmen, guardian of children, and of course, god of fortune. Hotei is based on Maitreya or the future Buddha of Hinduism.
Adachitoka didn’t change much of the appearance of Jurojin as a very old god hardly able to stand straight making back pain noises. Nonetheless, he seems to still have a thing for young girls and almost fell out of the ship of seven lucky gods in Noragami: Stray Stories!
Jurojin is the god of longevity and the elderly. He is “The Old Man of the South Pole” as he has originated from the Chinese Taoist god. He is known as the “immortal of the Northern Song dynasty” (960–1127). And has since been a historical figure of the period.
By the way, he is respected as the God of longevity for no mere reason. It is because he is fond of liquor and has a peach of eternal youth and longevity. So of course, the Japanese people have beautiful bodies even after gulping down pints of beer!
Another feature about Jurojin is that he carries a staff on which there is a scroll. It contains the lifespan of all living things in the world. The scroll sometimes also seems to be a Buddhist sutra. The deer, a symbol of longevity, usually accompanies him as a messenger.
Interestingly, people often confuse Jurōjin with Fukurokuju- another of the Several Gods of Fortune with a long bald head and white beard. In some accounts, the two are said to inhabit the same body as well!
Speaking of Fortune gods, apart from Ebisu, Fukurokuju is no less to sportily pull off a western outfit with grey hair. It has been theorized that Fukurokuju is a Japanese assimilation of the Chinese Three Star Gods (Fulushou) embodied in one deity.
Fukurokuju’s name means; Happiness, Wealth, and Longevity. The Chinese Three Star Gods or Sanxing (三星): Fu (福, Prosperity), Lu (禄, Status) and Shou (寿, Longevity) has been combined into this one god.
According to some, before attaining divinity, he was a Chinese hermit with a long bald head of the Song Dynasty and a reincarnation of the Taoist god Xuanwu. It has been said that during his human incarnation, he was a philosopher who could exist without eating food. Also, he is the only god out of the seven that is able to revive the dead.
In the early representations of the Shichifukujin, Fukurokuju was not included. Instead, Kisshōten (吉祥天) the goddess of beauty and fortune took his place. She came via Buddhism from the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.
When Kisshouten is been counted among the seven fukujin and fellow Fukujin Daikoku is regarded in feminine form, all three of the Hindu Tridevi goddesses represent in the Seven gods; with Daikoku representing Parvati and Benzaiten representing Saraswati.
I hope you had a good time knowing about the Seven Lucky Gods of Japan! Will we see more of these Gods in the series? Let us know in the comments. Until next time. Mata ne ^-^