From the god with the black deer of longevity to the god that warriors looked towards for support, the Japanese had Seven Gods of Fortune that they worshipped. In this article, you will learn about Fukurokuju (a god of happiness wealth and longevity) and Bishamonten (the god of warriors).
3. Fukurokuju is the god of happiness, wealth and longevity. The connection between Chinese and Japanese gods is evident with Fukurokuju because he is similar in appearance to the Chinese star god Shou, who is associated with wisdom and longevity. Some legends say that before he became a deity, Fukurokuju was a Chinese hermit that lived during the Song Dynasty and is considered the reincarnation of the Taoist god named Xuanwu. When a human, it is said that he was a philosopher who could live without eating any food.
Fukurokuju is often depicted as a bald man with long whiskers and an unusually high forehead. A sacred book tied to his staff is believed to highlight a record that contains the lifespan of every person on earth or is a magical scripture. Symbols of longevity are linked to the god, such as the turtle. At times, he is seen with a black deer as his companion. Ancient legends say that the deer becomes black in color when he is more than 2,000 years old.
Out of all the Seven Lucky Gods, Fukurokuju is the only one who possesses the ability to bring the dead back to life.
4. Bishamonten (or Tamonten in some circles) is the god of warriors , associated with the punishment of those that do evil. Covered in armor and wielding weapons, the god represents warfare. In artistic depictions, the god is often seen holding a spear in one hand and a small pagoda in the other. The latter symbol represents the divine treasure house, where he stands guard of the contents, as well as has the power to give it away.
Bishamon serves as the guardian of the places where Buddha preaches and is thought to call the halfway-point of Mount Sumeru his home. While he is the god of warriors, he does not represent war. Those preparing for battle often pray for their safety and a victory to him.
He is also known as a god of defense against foreign invaders. Bishamon is also associated with health, as he is thought to have the power to save emperors from life-threatening illness, as well as defeat the demons of plague. Those who follow the god typically believe that he will reward with good fortune and riches. Some women believe that the god will reward by blessing a family with children.
Other names that Bishamon is known by include Defender of the Nation, Guardian of the Dharma (Buddhist Law), and Lord of Wealth and Treasure.