Skip to Content

Kichijoten: Buddhist Gods and Their Role in Prosperity

Kichijoten is a revered Japanese goddess known for her associations with beauty, happiness, and fortune. Her origins can be traced back to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, as she is considered a Buddhist adaptation of the Indian goddess Lakshmi. This connection highlights the intermingling of diverse cultural influences in her mythology.

In Japan, Kichijoten is often counted among the Seven Lucky Gods, a group of deities who grant good fortune to their followers. She specifically symbolizes femininity, beauty, fertility, and love. As a result, Kichijoten holds a special significance for geisha girls, singers, and dancers, bestowing luck and prosperity upon them.

With her rich history and popular appeal, Kichijoten serves as an excellent example of the blending of religious and mythological traditions in Japanese culture. By studying her and other Buddhist gods, we gain insight into the intricate belief systems that have evolved and been transformed across time and cultural boundaries.

Origins and Evolution

Historical Context

Kichijoten is a Japanese goddess of beauty and happiness, often 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 and is known as Kisshoutennyo or Kudokuten. Her mythology is closely tied to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Kichijoten’s name means “Heavenly Good Luck and Fortunes.” In Japan’s diverse cultural history, the gods of Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism are represented in equal numbers. The Seven Lucky Gods embody the virtues held in the highest regard by the Japanese culture.

Iconography Development

Over time, Kichijoten’s iconography has experienced significant development. In the Kamakura Era, representations of Kichijoten often depicted her with a plump body and mature face, embodying the ideal feminine beauty of ancient China. This continued to evolve, and in modern representations, her left hand usually holds the Wish-Granting Jewel (Hōjyu in Japanese or Cintamani in Sanskrit).

It’s essential to understand that Kichijoten’s iconography is a blend of various cultural influences, as her origins lie in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Japanese traditions. This unique mix makes her iconography highly dynamic and adaptable through different cultural lenses and context.

Significance in Buddhism

Symbolism and Attributes

Kichijoten, the Japanese goddess of beauty and happiness, is associated with luck and prosperity in Buddhism. Adopted from the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, she represents good fortune and abundance. Her name, Kichijoten (吉祥天), translates to “Heavenly Good Luck and Fortunes.”

Her beauty and charm are symbols of her divine grace, and she is often depicted holding a gem, which is believed to grant good luck. Kichijoten is known to protect geisha girls, singers, and dancers, further emphasizing her connection to beauty and art.

Worship Practices

As one of the Seven Lucky Gods (fukujin) in Japan, Kichijoten is a popular figure in worship practices. She sometimes replaces other gods, such as Jurōjin or Fukurokuju, in the traditional group of Seven Lucky Gods. Devotees pray to Kichijoten for beauty, happiness, prosperity, and love.

Various offerings and rituals are performed in her honor, reflecting her association with fertility, beauty, and fortune. The worship of Kichijoten is deeply rooted in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, showcasing a beautiful blend of cultures and beliefs.

Representation in Art

Statues and Paintings

Kichijoten, a Buddhist deity of fertility and good fortune, has been depicted in various forms of art. Statues and paintings capture her essence as a goddess of beauty and happiness. One notable example is a painting on hemp at Yakushiji Temple, which is believed to be modeled on Empress Komyo (l. 701-760 CE).

Kichijoten is often shown making the segan’in gesture with one hand, signifying the granting of desires. In the other hand, she holds the hōjū, or ‘the Treasure Gem’, representing overcoming calamities and granting wishes. This symbolism makes Kichijoten a popular subject in Buddhist art, especially in statues and paintings.

Cultural Portrayals

In cultural portrayals, Kichijoten’s mythology is closely tied to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Adapted via Buddhism from the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, she is also known as Kisshoutennyo (吉祥天女) or Kudokuten (功徳天). Kichijoten is sometimes considered one of the Seven Gods of Fortune in Japan, replacing either Jurōjin or Fukurokuju.

Kichijoten’s role as a goddess of good fortune and fruitful harvests connects her to the Japanese pantheon of deities. Mahayana Buddhism often incorporated Hindu deities into the pantheon, further emphasizing Kichijoten’s significance in Japanese culture and art. Her importance throughout history has ensured her continued representation in various art forms, solidifying her status as a beloved deity.

Influence Beyond Religion


Kichijoten not only holds importance in religious context but also has been featured in various literary works. Due to her captivating beauty, she has been depicted in folklore and poetry, emphasizing her influence on love, beauty, and fortune. The goddess has inspired countless poems, haiku, and works of art throughout the centuries.

Popular Culture

Kichijoten’s appeal also extends to popular culture. She can be found in diverse forms of entertainment, including movies, TV shows, and video games. Her beauty, grace, and benevolence inspire artists to create intricate representations of her character. Furthermore, her association with prosperity leads to her presence in various cultural events, such as festivals and ceremonies, where people pray for good fortune and happiness in their lives.

Temples and Shrines

Kichijoten, also known as Kisshōten or Kudokuten, is a Japanese Buddhist goddess, adapted from the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. She is a symbol of beauty, happiness, and good fortune, and is occasionally included as one of the Seven Gods of Fortune in Japan. Temples and shrines throughout Japan honor this revered deity.

Notable temples housing Kichijoten representations can be identified by specific name suffixes such as “-ji” or “-tera.” For instance, Kamakura Era wooden statue of Kichijoten resides in Jōryūriji Temple in Kyoto. Other temples, like Hase-dera and Asuka-dera, have names ending in “-dera” or “-in.”

When visiting Kichijoten temples, it’s important to show respect and observe the customs. Typical Japanese Buddhist temple names are:

  • Tōdai-ji
  • Hōryū-ji
  • Kenchō-ji

In summary, Kichijoten is a significant goddess in Japanese Buddhism and is honored across various temples throughout Japan. Visitors should pay their respects and admire the beauty and symbolic importance of her presence.

Festivals and Celebrations

The worshippers of Kichijoten, the Japanese goddess of beauty and happiness, partake in various festivals and celebrations to honor her. These events are meant to seek her blessings for beauty, fertility, and fortune.

One noteworthy celebration takes place during the hatsumoude – the traditional New Year’s visit to a temple or shrine. Devotees pray to Kichijoten for a successful and prosperous year ahead. People also gather to reflect on life events and pay their respects to the deity.

In some temples, like Yakushiji, specifically hold Keka, a Buddhist service for reflecting on one’s conscious and unconscious sins. Through this ritual, followers also pray for universal peace, plentiful crops, and good luck from Kichijoten.

During these festivities, the community comes together, showcasing the continued influence of Kichijoten, not only as a mythical figure but as a guiding presence in the lives of her devotees.