What is the Role of Ebisu in Japanese Mythology?

Ebisu Image

In Japanese mythology and folklore, Ebisu is a prominent figure.

He is usually characterized as a strong, hirsute individual grasping a fishing pole and a big sea bream.

Ebisu is one of the blessed Seven Gods of Fortune, and is recognized as the protector of fishermen and traders.

He has left an indelible imprint on Japanese culture, and his legacy is still present in present-day life.

Artwork, festivals, and shrines all depict him and his significance is mirrored in many tales and myths.

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What is Ebisu?

One of the Seven Lucky Gods is Ebisu, a deity of Japanese origin.

He is remembered as having a fishing rod clutched in his right hand while a sea bream was in his left.

At times, buskers demonstrate Ebisu figures moving to the beat.

The deity Ebisu is frequently referred to as

  • a foreign god
  • a priest
  • one of the gods of fertility

Instead, people also deified whales as gods of fishing.

It was thought that Ebisu was a god of those who had come to shore from the ocean.

An Examination of Ebisu

The gods venerated at shrines dedicated to Ebisu may be different in each shrine.

In some places of worship, he can be honored as

  • Hiruko, the son of Izanagi, or Izanami
  • Kotoshironushi, the son of Okuninushi no Mikoto

But in a few shrines, he may be enshrined as

  • The God of Shohikono
  • The Deity Named Hikohibidemi

He is occasionally venerated as a divine being from abroad.

The Nishinomiya Shrine has been in existence for many years.

In the past, two gods, "barbarian" and "Saburo," were blended together to form the divine being of "barbarian Saburo".

The gods were then adored as

  • Bishamonten
  • Fudo Myoo

Ebisu was traditionally believed among the people as follows.

Deity of the Sea

It is thought that Ebisu is a deity of the ocean who arrives from the sea, and people give thanks and show appreciation to him in celebration.

The Deity of Fisheries

People venerate Ebisu, the fishery god, because they believe that their fishing will be more successful if "isana" appear in the waters.

In certain places, the use of floating nets in fishing is held in high regard and referred to as "Ebisuaba."


In Japan, whales have traditionally been referred to as "Yorigami", and any items that come ashore from the ocean are known as "Ebisu".

It is commonly accepted that a successful fishing expedition is likely to occur if a whale appears.

In the south part of Kyushu, one particular custom at the start of the fishing season is to collect stones from the ocean to become the "Goshintai of Ebisu".

The Deity of Luck

The one who oversees success and abundance is known as the deity of fortune.

During the Middle Ages, Ebisu was venerated as the deity of successful commerce.

The Ebisu God was renowned amongst the Seven Lucky Gods, often depicted with a contented grin.

When paying homage at the sanctuary , one must go to the rear of the primary hall and knock on the Dora to give thanks.

Ebisu Ko

A popular folk belief is Ebisu ko.

A celebration of Ebisu is held to revere him as a deity and implore for

  • a bountiful yield
  • thriving commerce
  • family security

Incorporating Other Deities

Worship of Ebisu has been a practice since ancient times.

Throughout the ages, a multitude of theories have been formulated in relation to Ebisu, with the most widely known being those held by many shrines.

  • Hiruko
  • Kotoshironushi

The figure of Hiruko

The ancient myth of Ebisu no Mikoto is said to have brought forth the god Ebisu into existence.

Nishinomiya Shrine is devoted to the deity Ebisu and is seen as the leading shrine among all those dedicated to Ebisu in Japan.

The deity Ebisu was likewise referred to as Hiruko, leading to the two being seen as a single god.

In order to gain more knowledge on Hiruko,

It is suggested that you read this article.

The Deity of Kotoshironushi

At Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, Ebisu is honored as the deity of the ocean.

The link between Kotoshironushi and Ebisu is due to Kotoshironushi being a fisherman in the Kuni-yuzuri section of the Kiki mythology.

*The term "Kiki" encompasses the legends documented in both the "Kojiki" and the "Nihon Shoki", acting as a collective name for the tales present therein.

The Miho Shrine is the primary shrine devoted to Ebisu, and is the leading temple of Kotoshironushi.

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