Fukurokuju

福禄寿

October 6, 2017

Main Shrines

Imado Jinja    今戸       

Tōkyō-to, Taitō-ku, Imado 1-5-22   東京都台東区今戸1-5-22

Along with Jurōjin, with whom he is often conflated or confused, Fukurokuju is one of the two Seven Lucky Gods of Taoist derivation. The literal meaning of his name is happiness (福, fuku), wealth (禄, roku), longevity (寿, ju). The following paragraph is Miyata's description  (26, 宮田, pp 39-40).

From the Song Dynasty (960-1279) onwards, the personification of the Ju-sei (lit. longevity star) or Nankyoku-rōjin-sei (lit. South Pole old person star) changed. The head became extremely elongated, long side-whiskers were added, and the body became that of a short old man. There can be no doubt that Jurōjin and Fukurokuju are one and the same, but in Japan they have been treated as different beings and included separately in the Seven Lucky Gods.  The three elements of his name--happiness, wealth, longevity--are all Taoist ideals, which, combined in the one being, make for a very powerful god indeed. Further, Jurōjin's deer is replaced by the turtle and the crane. During the Edo Period some people who disliked the idea that the two Taoist gods might be one and the same sought to replace either of them in the pantheon, usually with Kichijoten or the shōshō.

 

In Chiba's account, the three Taoist ideals--happiness, wealth, longevity-were actually thee gods who were combined into one, Fukurokuju.  He was a hermit of the Song Dynasty who was a reincatnation of the Taoist god, Hsuan-wu (Xuanwu), and was one of the sennin (hermit), Chinese philosophers who could sustain life without eating. His head was extremely long, accounting for over half of his total 1m height. She adds a snake and a white deer to the animals who might accompany him.

The list of occupations with which Chiba associates him is relatively short. It consists of athletes, chess players, gardeners (along with Daikokuten), jewelers (along with Bishamonten), magicians, and watchmakers .

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© Rod Lucas 2016-2019

All text and photos by Lucas unless otherwise stated