Fukufokuju (the god of happiness (fuku), wealth (roku) and long life (ju) with an elongated head) (福禄寿)

Fukurokuju is one of the Seven Deities of Good Fortune. Fukurokuju is the personification of the three wishes that are particularly sought in Taoism including happiness, wealth and longevity. Fukurokuju is said to be the personification of a Taoist monk Tennansho in the Sung Dynasty (Southern Court) (a mythical Chinese Taoist hermit renowned for performing miracles) or an avatar of the southern polar star (Canopus), and is sometimes believed to be the same god as Jurojin (the god of longevity) with a different name. Fukurokuju is also referred to as Fukurokujin.

The Image of Fukurokuju

In China, the statues of Fukurokuju, the one god existing in three entities and one substance symbolizing happiness, wealth and longevity, accompanied by a crane, deer and peach were made and became commonly available as well as the paintings of Fukurokuju accompanied by a bat, crane and pine representing happiness, wealth and longevity by bat, crane and pine were. The image of Fukurokuju is believed to be that he is small in stature with an elongated head and long beard, is holding a cane with a sutra scroll attached to it and is accompanied by a crane.

Faith in Three Gods

Fukurokuju was originally an apotheosis of three gods including fuxing (the God of Fortune), luxing (the God of Prospersity) and shouxing (the God of Longevity), being the god existing in three entities and one substance. Fukurokuju has been believed among common people in China since the Ming Dynasty era in which "Sanseizu" (The Picture of Three Gods, expressing happiness, wealth and longevity) has been hung for the worship at the lunar New Year in China.

Fuxing is said to be Jupiter (or Saisei according to the Twelve Divisions (the Jupiter Stations, which involved dividing the zodiac into twelve areas along the ecliptic)) which is mostly depicted in the image of a black-haired person wearing an extravagant official robe situated in the middle of the three gods. With respect to Luxing, the God of Fortune, since the pronunciation for 'fortune' (l) is identical to that for 'green' (l), that god is often depicted dressed in green carrying money or a baby representing affluence. Shouxing, the God of Longevity is considered to be Canopus and there are various opinions on his physical appearance depending on the time in history but, since the modern era, it has often been defined to be a bald old man with an elongated head sporting white beard. Strictly speaking, Jurojin was originally Shouxing (Canopus) that had exclusively been introduced to Japan.

The Picture of Three Gods has been painted in many variations such that the three gods are often expressed by symbols related to the significance or sound, not in the form of human being. In one of such variations, only Shouxing, the God of Longevity was depicted in the form of an old man in the middle, with a bat as Fuxing, the God of Fortune (as the pronunciation of kanji characters delineating 'fortune' (f) and 'bat'(f) are the same in Chinese) and a deer as Luxing, the God of Prosperity (as the pronunciation of kanji characters delineating 'prosperity' (l) and 'deer' (l) are the same in Chinese) being positioned on either side of Shouxing, respectively. As a result, it is considered that, it seemed to the Japanese, there was one god accompanied by two creatures in these paintings whereby Fukurokuju has been generally recognized as one godhead and not three persons in Japan.

[Original Japanese]