Stories and pictures from my travels around Japan,
including hundreds of temples and a walk of over 500 km (300 miles)
(more about my travels in Japan)

The Seven Lucky Gods: A Pilgrimage

In the first days of a new year, it's a Japanese tradition to go visiting the "Shichifukujin," or "Seven Lucky Gods." This may be because it's believed that they visit you in your sleep on New Year's Eve; dreaming of them predicts luck for the year.

One year while I lived in Japan, I did a pilgrimage starting in Ueno, and the beautiful little Benten Shrine in the pond in Ueno Park (Ueno no Ike, famous since the Edo Period).

Checking in at that the shrine, you can buy a map and a small scroll (just a piece of paper). Follow the map and visit the seven shrines on it, one dedicated to each God. Volunteers at each shrine stamp the paper and do calligraphy on it.

Here's my map, and my "scroll" (I shot it in two parts, hence the ugly seam; sorry).

I have added here detail shots from the scroll, with a very brief description of each taken from Wikipedia. You can read more starting here. From left, going clockwise:

Ebisu, god of fishers or merchants,
often depicted carrying a sea bream
(see the fish in front of Daikokuten below)

Daikokuten (Daikoku), god of wealth,
commerce and trade

Jurojin, god of wisdom

Benzaiten (Benten-sama), goddess of knowledge,
art and beauty, especially music

Fukurokuju, god of happiness,
wealth and longevity

Hotei, the fat and happy god of
abundance and good health

Bishamonten, god of warriors

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