In anime we can learn a lot about Japanese spirituality. A great example is the Seven Lucky Gods.
You may have heard of them because of certain anime. Two examples that might pop in your head are the first Ranma ½ movie; Ranma ½: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China that featured the ‘seven lucky gods of martial arts’ as the main antagonists. Secondly, there is the more current anime Shirobako where the five lead characters create an amateur short anime based on the Seven Lucky Gods and plan to make a full-length feature film of it one day.
Let’s take a closer look at these good fortune deities. This Luck pantheon often appear together in Japanese art and in myths and legends always traveling together on a Takarabune (treasure boat) to visit Japanese cities on New Years. They are all popular Gods and often grant wealth, happiness, longevity and luck in love to people. It is said that they have been banded together since the 15th century.
So who are they?
(a) Hotei, the jolly fat God of abundance and good health
(b) Juroujin, God of long life
(c) Fukurokuju, God of happiness, wealth and longevity
(d) Bishamonten, God of warriors
(e) Benziten or Benten-sama, the Goddess of knowledge, art, music and beauty
(f) Daikokuten or Daikoku, the God of wealth, commerce and trade
(g) Ebisu, the God of fishers and merchants.
These seven deities are also known as the Shichifukujin (Shichi – Seven, Fuku – Luck and Jin – God/Deity/Kami). They are quite an eclectic pantheon: since Benzaiten, Bishamonten and Daikokuten are actually Hindu Deities, Fukurokuju, Hotei and Juroujin are Chinese Taosit-Buddhist diety while Ebisu is a Japanese Shinto God.
And if you think these deities only appear in Japanese spirituality and anime you will be amazed where they pop up if you look deeper.
In the Dan Brown novel Digital Fortress a character prays to the ‘seven deities of good luck’ (even if he actually uses the term shichigosan (see link underneath), which refers to the festival for Japanese children at ages 7, 5 and 3)
On the first Japanese banknote the image of Daikoku featured (The note was designed by Edoardo Chiossone)
In the Darkstalkers video game, Bisshamon is the name of one of the characters.
If you would like to know more about these Luck Deities, please follow this link: http://goo.gl/aWodOO
If you would like to know more about shichigosan, please read our article about the festival by following this link: http://goo.gl/1CIWES