The Seven Lucky Gods Pilgrimage, also known as the Shichifukujin Meguri, is a traditional Japanese religious practice in which believers visit seven shrines or temples believed to be associated with the Seven Lucky Gods, a group of deities who are believed to bring good fortune and blessings to those who pray to them. The Seven Lucky Gods are a diverse group of deities drawn from different traditions, including Buddhism, Shinto, Taoist and Hindu beliefs. This tradition demonstrates the peaceful co-existence of varying religions in Japan.
What are the “seven lucky Gods”?
The Seven Lucky Gods, also known as the Shichifukujin in Japanese, are a group of deities who are revered in Japan for their ability to bring good fortune and blessings to those who pray to them. They are often depicted in artwork and other cultural items in Japan.
The Seven Lucky Gods are as follows:
Hotei: Hotei is a deity who is associated with contentment, prosperity, and good fortune. He is often depicted as a plump, jovial figure carrying a large bag of treasures.
Jurojin: Jurojin is a deity who is associated with longevity and good health. He is often depicted as an elderly man with a long, white beard.
Fukurokuju: Fukurokuju is a deity who is associated with wisdom, prosperity, and happiness. He is often depicted as an elderly man with a long, white beard and a tall, pointed hat.
Benzaiten: Benzaiten is a deity who is associated with the arts, music, and eloquence. She is often depicted as a beautiful woman playing a biwa, a type of Japanese lute.
Bishamonten: Bishamonten is a deity who is associated with warriors, martial arts, and protection. He is often depicted as a fierce warrior carrying a spear or a sword.
Daikokuten: Daikokuten is a deity who is associated with agriculture, wealth, and abundance. He is often depicted as a plump, jovial figure carrying a bag of rice.
Ebisu: Ebisu is a deity who is associated with fishing, prosperity, and good fortune. He is often depicted as a cheerful fisherman carrying a fish.
The Seven Lucky Gods are revered in Japan for their ability to bring blessings and good fortune to those who pray to them.
What is the pilgrimage?
In Tokyo, the Seven Lucky Gods Pilgrimage is a popular way for people to pray for good luck and to receive blessings from the deities.
How do you complete the pilgrimage?
There is no one specific way to complete the Seven Lucky Gods Pilgrimage it is a personal and individual experience that varies from person to person. However, here is a general outline of how the pilgrimage is typically done:
- Research the locations of the seven shrines and temples associated with the Seven Lucky Gods. These shrines and temples are typically located throughout the city, so it can be helpful to plan out a route in advance.
- Make a plan for how you will visit the shrines and temples. Some people choose to complete the pilgrimage on foot, while others prefer to visit the shrines and temples by car or by public transportation.
- Visit the shrines and temples in any order you choose. At each shrine or temple, it is customary to offer a prayer or make a small offering, such as a small coin or a piece of paper with a written prayer on it. People usually purchase a special paper known as a “shikishi” on which they collect a stamp representing each God called a “goshuin”. This usually costs a small fee.
- As you visit each shrine or temple, you may also choose to purchase a charm or talisman that is associated with that particular deity. These charms are believed to bring good luck and blessings to the bearer.
- After visiting all seven shrines and temples, it is common to return home or to a specific location to reflect on the experience and to give thanks for the blessings received.
It is important to note that the Seven Lucky Gods Pilgrimage is a religious practice, and it is respectful to behave appropriately while visiting the shrines and temples. This may include taking off your shoes when entering a shrine or temple, and behaving in a quiet and respectful manner.
Many people find the pilgrimage to be a rewarding and spiritual experience, and it is a great opportunity to learn about different religious traditions and cultural practices in Japan.
What routes can you take?
For those living in Tokyo, there are many options for the pilgrimage. The oldest route in Tokyo is said to be the Yanaka Shichifukujin Meguri.
The Yanaka Shichifukujin Meguri is a version of the Seven Lucky Gods Pilgrimage that takes place in the Yanaka neighborhood of Tokyo. Yanaka is a historic neighborhood with a rich cultural heritage, and it is home to several shrines and temples that are associated with the Seven Lucky Gods.
Doing this route offers a good chance to also visit the nearby impressive Nezu Shrine, the Yanaka Cemetery and the famous Yanaka Ginza shopping street. The Yanaka Shichifukujin Meguri is also a great way to explore the history and culture of the Yanaka neighborhood, and to learn about the Seven Lucky Gods and their significance in Japanese religious traditions.
To participate in the Yanaka Shichifukujin Meguri, you can simply pick up a map at any of the participating shrines or temples, or you can download a map and more information from the official website.
The shrines and temples on this route are:
- Shounji (Ebisu) – 3-6-4 Nishi-Nippori
- Shushouin (Hotei) – 3-7-12 Nishi-Nippori
- Choanji (Jurojin) – 5-2-22 Yanaka
- Tennoji (Bishamonten) – 7-14-8 Yanaka
- Gokokuin (Daikokuten) – 10-18 Ueno-koen
- Kaneiji (Benzaiten) – 1-14-11 Ueno-sakuragi
- Togakuji (Fukurokuji) – 2-7-3 Tabata
Some other options are:
Shinagawa Shichifukujin Meguri – http://www.merit5.co.jp/gyosei/shinagawa/1201/1201_01.html
Yamanote Shichifukujin Meguri – https://www.kanko-shinjuku.jp/course/-/article_2809.html
Koedo Kawagoe Shichifukujin Meguri in Saitama – http://www.kawagoe.com/7fukujin/m/en/
Asakusa Shichifukujin – http://www.asakusa7.jp/english.html
Shibamata Shichifukujin – https://www.fukushihoken.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/walkmap/en/map/detail/39.html
The Seven Lucky Gods Pilgrimage is not limited to Tokyo, and can be found in various forms throughout Japan. Regardless of how you choose to complete the pilgrimage, it is a unique and fascinating cultural experience that is well worth considering if you are interested in Japanese religion and culture.