Ebisu 

恵比寿 戎 恵比須 えびす

Main Shrines

Nishinomiya Jinja    西宮神社        

Hyōgo-ken, Nishinomiya-shi, Shake-chō 1-17    

兵庫県西宮市社家町1-17                                

Kiryū Nishinomiya Jinja   桐生西宮神社  

Gunma-ken, Kiryū-shi, Miyamoto-chō 2-1−1

群馬県桐生市宮本町2-1−1                 

Ebisu Jinja    蛭子神社

Kanagawa-ken, Kamakura-shi, Komachi 2-23-3

神奈川県鎌倉市小町2-23-3

Horikawa Ebisu Jinja     堀川戎神社

Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Nishitenman 5-4-17

大阪府大阪市北区西天満 5-4-17

Ebisu is often seen as a like-minded companion of Daikokuten and the pair are often worshipped together at the same shrines. In addition to wealth, Ebisu is associated with candour, good fortune and fair dealing, and from olden times he has been regarded as the kami of fishermen. The occupations Chiba associates him with are attorneys, booksellers, collectors, editors, executives, fishermen, housewives, merchants, producers, publishers, and sailors. The association with fair dealing is symbolized by the Ebisu-kō. These are a variety of fairs which have been held since early Tokugawa times on October 20 or other dates at which merchants were expected to sell their goods at a discount. The tradition has continued into modern times, with department stores and other shops holding special sales. 

 

The single most strongly held theory among the Japanese about the origins of the Seven Lucky Gods is that only Ebisu is of indisputable Japanese origin. There are two main theories. The first is that he is the leech child born to Izanagi and Izanami after the latter spoke out of turn during their first courtship. The second is that he is Kotoshiro-nushi-mikoto (90), one of Ōkuni-nushi's sons who advised his father to cede the Land of Izumo to Amaterasu's descendants and thereafter either went to the Land of Yomi or transformed himself from a visible to an invisible deity.

Although considered to be indisputably Japanese Ebisu's name could be construed as hinting at possibly less than pure Japanese origins. In addition to the way the name is normally written, 恵比寿, it can also be written as"" or "." and both these characters can also be read as "Yemishi." This was the name given by the central government to the non-Yamato native peoples of Northern Honshū and Hokkaidō, and was sometimes used derogatively. He is also strongly associated with the sea, another hint at a possible non-Japanese origin. This maritime association probably derives from his having been set adrift in a reed basket on a river, which presumably floated him down to the sea, in his leech child incarnation.

Images of Ebisu almost always show him carrying a large ungainly fishing rod in his right hand with a large sea bream tucked under his right arm.

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© Rod Lucas 2016-2019

All text and photos by Lucas unless otherwise stated