Shichifukujin (Seven Deities of Good Luck) (七福神)

Shichifukujin refers to seven deities which are believed to bring good luck in Japan.

Each deity
They are generally supposed to be the seven deities mentioned below.

Ebisu
It used to be the deity of fishery for 'good catch and happiness' in ancient times. With the times, it has become the deity of commerce and agriculture bringing 'prosperous trade' and 'good harvests' as a deity of good luck.

Daikokuten
It is syncretization of Shiva from Hinduism in India and Okuninushi no Mikoto from ancient Japan. As in the expression Daikoku bashira (the central pillar or the mainstay), it has become the deity controlling food and fortune.

Bishamonten
It was originally Kubera from Hinduism in India, which has become Vaishuravana (Tamonten) as a Buddhism deity and is called Bishamonten in Japan.

Benzaiten
It is the only female among Shichifukujin, and was originally Saraswati, a female deity from Hinduism in India.
As a deity of Shichifukujin, it is mostly written as '弁財天.'

Fukurokuju
It is supposed to be a Taoist of Taoism in Song (Southern Dynasty), or another name or the same deity of Jurojin, which is Lao-tzu, a deity of Taoism and the incarnation of the southern polar stars.

Jurojin
It is Lao-tzu, a deity of Taoism and the incarnation of the southern polar stars.

Hotei
It is a Buddhism monk who is said to have existed in Mingzhou at the end of Tang Dynasty.

Prayer for happiness

They are supposed to be auspicious existence and lucky charms.

It is said that putting 'a picture of Shichifukujin on Takarabune (treasure ship)' under the pillow in the New Year makes you have a good Hatsuyume (the first dream of the year)).

There is a way to visit shrines to get good luck by going to each of seven shrines in order. This is called Shichifukujin meguri (visiting Shichifukujin).

Origin

Syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism

It is a typical Japanese object to believe in, which is syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism, with Hinduism in India (Daikoku, Bishamon and Benzai), Chinese Buddhism (Hotei) and Taoism (Fukurokuju and Jurojin), and indigenous belief in Japan (Ebisu and Okuninushi) mixed. It is said that it has been believed in since around the end of the Muromachi Period.

However, since both Jurojin and Fukurokuju are supposed to be the incarnation of Canopus, they were regarded to be originally the same, and Kisshoten or Shojo was included once instead of Jurojin. This started in Kansai. It is unclear who decided these members and when.

The members differ according to times.

It is also said that Shojo and Inari-shin were excluded because they didn't have a human figure.

Hassen (eight hermits) origin theory

In China, there exist Hassen (eight deities of good luck) similar to Shichifukujin, each of which is said to have been an actual person (hermit), and the picture of them is an object to believe in across the nation. Since the picture looks like Japanese Shichifukujin, there is an theory that this Hassen is the origin of it. However, there is a negative opinion against it, according to the theory that Shichifukujin has gradually increased from three.

Kanshori (Zhongli Quan)
Chokaro (Zhang Guo Lao)
Ryodohin (Lu Dongbin)
Ritetsukai (Li Tieguai)
Kanshoshi (Han Xiang Zi)
Ransaiwa (Lan Caihe)
Sokokukyu (Cao Guojiu)
Kasenko (He Xiangu), the only woman