Japanese Goddess

Kichijoten

Kichijoten (吉祥天) is Japanese Buddhism’s version of the Indian goddess Lakshmi. She grants beauty, fertility, and happiness to her worshipers, and is sometimes included as one of the Seven Lucky Gods.

By Gregory WrightLast updated on Sep. 3rd, 2021
  • Who among the Seven Lucky Gods does Kichijoten replace?

    While Kichijoten isn’t always included in the pantheon of the Seven Lucky Gods, when she is she usually replaces either Fukurokuju or Jurojin.

  • What does Kichijoten carry in her hand?

    Kichijoten is frequently depicted carrying a nyoihoju gem, a wishing stone often shown as a pearl, which can grant the bearer whatever they desire.

Kichijoten is a Japanese goddess of beauty and happiness, and she is sometimes included as one of the Seven Lucky Gods who grant fortune to followers in Japan. She is a Buddhist version of the Indian goddess Lakshmi.

Etymology

The name Kichijoten (吉祥天) means “Heavenly Good Luck and Fortunes.” The goddess’s other names include Kisshoten (吉祥天, “Heavenly Good Omen”), Kisshotennyo (吉祥天女, “Heavenly Woman of Auspicious Good Fortune”), and Kudokuten (功徳天, “Heavenly Virtuous Honors”).

Attributes

According to Japanese mythology, Kichijoten is an arbiter of happiness, granting fortune, beauty, and fertility to those who believe in her. Because of these attributes, Kichijoten is often perceived as being worshiped primarily by women, as all of her domains intersect with women, and this in part is her inheritance from Lakshmi. Often appearing as a noblewoman, Kichijoten’s style of dress depends on the perceptions of the artist, and she frequently carries a nyoihoju gem, a wishing stone often depicted as a pearl.

As a quasi-member of the Seven Lucky Gods, she is most prominently worshiped with her fellow deities at the New Year.

Mythology

Kichijoten is one of the more obscure members of the Seven Lucky Gods.

Role in Japan

Kichijoten arrived in a Buddhist context having been shaped by a number of Chinese and Korean folk beliefs, but she is largely an intact version of the Indian goddess Lakshmi. Worshiped for her connection to women, Kichijoten is not always listed as a member of the Seven Lucky Gods. Beginning in the Edo period (1613-1868), she began to appear with more frequency and replaced either Fukurokuju or Jurojin, who had domain over the same characteristics.

Worshiped in a modern context, her femininity is emphasized, and she, like the other Seven Lucky Gods, are a popular set of deities at the New Year.

Other Mythology

In the Hindu pantheon, the Indian goddess Lakshmi holds domain over the same attributes as Kichijoten. She arrived in Japan through China and Korea, where she took on Buddhist characteristics. With Benzaiten and the feminine form of Daikokuten, Kichijoten forms the Buddhist version of the Indian trio of goddess known as the Trivdevi. She is also not unlike the Greek goddess Aphrodite, the Roman goddess Venus, the Mesopotamian Ishtar/Inana/Astarte, and the Egyptian Hathor.

Kichijoten is more obscure than many members of the Seven Lucky Gods and appears more sparsely in pop culture:

  • The Buddhist temple at Ryohoji created an advertising campaign that depicted many Buddhist figures, including Kichijoten, as anime-inspired cartoons. One parishioner went one step further, creating a promotional video in which a pornography star played a sensuous version of Kichijoten.

  • In the manga RG Veda by CLAMP, Kisshoten is the wife of Bishamonten and daughter of the former king, who stands by her husband despite his questionable actions.

References

Bibliography

  1. Chiba, Reiko. Seven Lucky Gods of Japan. Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1966.

  2. Ono, Sokyo. Shinto: The Kami Way. Translated by William Woodard. Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1962.

Citation

“Kichijoten.” Mythopedia. Accessed on December 23, 2021. https://mythopedia.com/topics/kichijoten

About the Author

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Gregory Wright

Writer and Historian

Gregory Wright is a writer and historian with an M.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of Texas at Austin

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