Ota Dokan (1432-1486) and Yamabuki Girl
was a mighty warrior in the middle of Muromachi era. One day
when he went out for hunting it began raining. The hunt stopped
by a humble farmhouse and asked a girl for a straw cloak (mino).
She went backroom but returned with a branch of bright yellow
Japanese flower (yamabuki). The girl handed the flower to Dokan
and recited a poem:
yamabuki blooms in seven or eight petals, yet it bears no fruit
yae hana ha sakedomo yamabuki no mino hitotsu dani naki zo
Dokan went back to the castle and asked his men about the poem.
A knowledgeable man said that it was quoted from an ancient
volume of poems, a poem composed by an imperial prince. The girl
apologised for unavailability of straw cloak by using a
metaphor. It is said that Dokan was ashamed of his ignorance and
started to learn the classics after that.
Seven Gods of Good Fortune (Shichifukujin)
is the set of seven lucky gods in
Ebisu, Daikokuten, Benzaiten, Jurojin, Fukurokuju, Bishamonten
and Hotei. They are deities of Buddhist, Taoist, Shinto, and
Hindu origins representing the seven essential human virtues:
dignity, kindness, magnanimity, frankness, popularity,
prosperity, and longevity. These gods became patrons of
business, agriculture, art, wisdom, long life, luck, and
On New Year's Eve the seven gods enter port together on
their treasure ship (takarabune) to bring happiness to everyone.
On the night of January First you should put under your pillow a
picture of the gods aboard. If you have a lucky dream that night
you will be lucky for the whole year. Another tradition is to
make a pilgrimage (meguri) to seven shrines or temples dedicated
to the seven gods. It is also thought that if a person rubs the
image of Daikokuten prosperity and wealth will come to him or
Seven has been an auspicious number around the world.
Ancient Japan was divided into seven districts, there are seven
basic principles of the Samurai's philosophy, the Japanese Star
Festival (Tanabata) is on the seventh day of the seventh month,
a baby's birth is celebrated on the seventh day, a death is
mourned for seven days and again after seven weeks. In Japanese
Buddhism there are seven reincarnations.