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Who is Ebisu? A Summary of His Role in Japanese Mythology

Ebisu Image

Ebisu is one of the most important gods in Japanese mythology and legends.

He is often portrayed as a stout, bearded man holding a fishing rod and a large sea bream.

Ebisu is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, and he is the patron of fishermen and merchants.

He is an important figure in Japanese culture, and his influence can still be felt in everyday life.

He is often seen in artwork, festivals, and shrines, and his importance is reflected in countless stories and legends.

Who is Ebisu?

Ebisu is a Japanese god and is one of the Seven Lucky Gods.

He is remembered as holding a fishing rod in his right hand and a sea bream in his left side.

Sometimes, street performers show Ebisu dolls dancing.

Ebisu is also known as

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

Instead, people also deified whales as gods of the fishery.

Ebisu was also believed to be a deity of drifters who arrived from the sea.

Overview of Ebisu

The deities worshipped at Ebisu shrines may differ in the shrines that worship Ebisu.

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

The deity Yebisu is often either of them.

But in a few shrines, he may be enshrined as

  • Shohikono-kami
  • Hikohibidemi no Mikoto

He is also sometimes enshrined as a foreign deity.

It is evident that the Nishinomiya Shrine has existed since ancient times.

In ancient times, there were two deities, "barbarian" and "Saburo," and these two deities were merged to form the divinity of "barbarian Saburo".

The deities were then worshipped as

  • Bishamonten
  • Fudo Myoo

Ebisu was traditionally believed among the people as follows.

Sea God

Ebisu is believed to be a sea god who comes from beyond the sea, and people celebrate and give thanks to him.

God of Fisheries

Ebisu is a popular fishery god who is worshipped with the belief that the appearance of marine creatures, called "isana," will result in a bountiful fish catch.

In some areas, floating fishing nets are enshrined, and they are called "Ebisuaba."


In Japan, whales have long been called "Yorigami", and objects washed ashore from the sea are called "Ebisu".

People believe that if a whale comes, it will have a big catch.

Also, in southern Kyushu, there is a custom of picking up stones from the sea at the beginning of the fishing season to make them the "Goshintai of Ebisu".

God of Fortune

In the Middle Ages, Ebisu came to be worshipped as the god of prosperous business.

Ebisu God was also known as one of the Seven Lucky Gods and was depicted with a plump smile.

When worshipping at the shrine, one must go around to the back side of the main hall and tap the Dora to pray.

Ebisu Ko

Ebisu ko is a well-known folk belief.

It is a festival to worship Ebisu as a god and pray for

  • a good harvest
  • prosperous business
  • family safety

Combination with other deities

Ebisu has been worshipped as a god since ancient times.

Since ancient times, there have been various theories about Ebisu, but the most well-known theories at most shrines are the following.

  • Hiruko
  • Kotoshironushi


There is a myth called Ebisu no Mikoto, and it is said that the god Ebisu was born in response to that myth.

Nishinomiya Shrine is dedicated to the deity Ebisu, and it is considered the head shrine of all Ebisu shrines in Japan.

Along with this, Ebisu came to be called Hiruko, so Ebisu and Hiruko came to be regarded as the same god.

To learn more about such Hiruko,

please read this article.


Ebisu is the god of the sea and is enshrined at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine.

Ebisu and Kotoshironushi are related because Kotoshironushi was a fisherman in the section of Kiki mythology that describes Kuni-yuzuri.

Kiki refers to "Kojiki" and "Nihon Shoki", and is a generic name for the myths recorded in both books.

Miho Shrine is the most typical shrine dedicated to Ebisu and is also the head shrine of Kotoshironushi.


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