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The Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神 Shichi Fukujin?), commonly referred to in English as the Seven Lucky Gods, are the seven gods of good fortune in Japanese mythology and folklore. They are often the subject of netsuke carvings and other representations.
Each has a traditional attribute:
Many figures in the Seven Lucky Gods were transmitted from India and China, including all of the Seven Lucky Gods except Ebisu. Daikoku-ten, derived from the Hindu god Shiva became intertwined with the local Shinto deity Ōkuninushi. Another god, Kichijōten, goddess of happiness, is sometimes found depicted along with the seven traditional gods, replacing Jurōjin, the reasoning being that Jurōjin and Fukurokuju were originally manifestations of the same Taoist deity, the Southern Star. However, as is often the case in folklore, Japanese gods sometimes represent different things in different places.
The seven gods are often depicted on their ship, the Takarabune (宝船), or "Treasure Ship." The tradition holds that the seven gods will arrive in town on the New Year and distribute fantastic gifts to worthy people. Children often receive red envelopes emblazoned with the Takarabune which contain gifts of money around the New Year. The Takarabune and its passengers are often depicted in art in varied locations, from the walls of museums to cuddly caricatures.
The Seven Lucky Gods in a woodblock print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
The Seven Lucky Gods, in an 1882 woodblock print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
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