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Yebisu (恵比須, 恵比寿, 夷, 戎) is also called Ebisu, Hiruko (蛭子), and Kotoshiro-nushi-no-kami (事代主神). He is the Japanese god of fishermen, good luck, and workingmen. He is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神 - Shichifukujin), and the only one of the seven to originate in Japan. He is sometimes depicted as the brother of Hiruko, a Japanese sun god.

Origins as Hiruko

Yebisu was originally named Hiruko, meaning "leech child" or "watery child". He was the first child of Izanagi and Izanami, born without bones (or, in some stories, without arms and legs) due to his mother's transgression during the marriage ritual. Hiruko struggled to survive but, as he could not stand, he was cast to the sea in a boat of reeds before his third birthday. He eventually washed ashore -- possibly in Ezo (蝦夷 - ancient Hokkaido) -- and was cared for by the Ainu "Ebisu Saburo" (戎三郎).

As Yebisu

The weak child overcame many hardships, grew legs (and, presumably, the rest of his skeletal structure) at the age of three, and became the god Yebisu. As Yebisu, he remains slightly crippled and deaf, but mirthful and auspicious nonetheless (hence the title, "The Laughing God"). He is often depicted holding a rod and a large red bream or sea bass. Jellyfish are also associated with this god and the fugu restaurants of Japan will often incorporate Yebisu in their motif.

Yebisu's festival is celebrated on the twentieth day of the tenth month, Kannazuki (the month without gods). While the other eight million members of the Japanese pantheon gather at The Grand Shrine of Izumo, Yebisu does not hear the summons and is thus still available for worship.

Yebisu is frequently paired with Daikokuten, another of the Seven Gods of Fortune, in displays of the twin patrons of small shopkeepers. In some versions of the myth they are father and son (or master and apprentice). Also, these two are often joined by Fukurokuju to be the "Three Gods of Good Fortune".

Other meanings

Missing image
The depiction of the god Yebisu popularized by Sapporo Breweries Limited

ja:えびす sv:Ebisu


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