Many gods bless us with their presence on the long journey through the anime, Noragami. They provide assistance and wisdom to Yato and Hiyori as they embark on their quest, though are often seen in blissful ignorance when the duo needs them most. Such is not the case with the goddess Kofuku Ebisu. She enjoys Yato’s company and seeks to give them her services when they are needed. Her powers are a double-edged sword though because she is portrayed as the goddess of poverty and her help often leads to problems further on down the road. Contrasting to the beautiful goddess, the real Ebisu is often portrayed as a portly man and is one of the Seven Gods of Luck. He is often worshipped and considered an extremely important god in Japanese mythology. The contrast between the Ebisu of Noragami and the Ebisu of Japanese mythology is stark but they draw from each other nonetheless.
Kofuku Ebisu in Japanese Mythology
Ebisu is a tremendously important god to fishermen and sailors. Praying to him is said to give you good fortune. Since Japan is an island surrounded by water, Ebisu is unsurprisingly one of the most popular gods in the Seven Gods of Luck. This deity is quite admired due to him bringing a good fishing season and safe waters for sailing. In many anime we see characters clapping before worship. This tradition is said to have come from the worship of Ebisu because he is partially deaf. The clapping would get his attention so he could grant the wishes of the worshipers. This soon became a widespread custom throughout Japan at almost every shrine for every deity. Ebisu is also the deity of fair trading. In order to alleviate the guilt of making too much of a profit, merchants would sell their goods at a lower price and hold sales in order to please the god. Ebisu is an exceptionally important god in Japanese mythology and in Japanese culture. This holds true in his portrayal throughout Japan and also in anime.
Kofuku Ebisu in Noragami
The Ebisu of Noragami is not nearly as revered as her real-life counterpart. The poor god is not even given a name upon birth because her power is said to bring chaos and misfortune. Rather than portraying one of the important Seven Gods of Fortune, she has been cast down to a mere shadow of what she is supposed to be. However, Ebisu does not let this keep her down as shown by her optimistic personality that is exhibited by her strong, though slightly airheaded, character. Ebisu is shown to bring bad luck to all who encounter her, whether that is through losing jobs, bad luck with money or even illness. Ebisu is an interesting character in her own right but is far from the authentic god that we see in Japanese mythology.
Ebisu is a particularly important god in Japanese culture due to his good fortune for merchants and fishermen. It is quite strange that they chose to portray this god as such an airheaded girl in Noragami but they do seem to take the opportunity to turn all of her positive traits into negative ones. This misleading information should not discourage you from watching Noragami as it is an entertaining and fascinating anime. The character of Kofuku Ebisu is entertaining and brings light to the dark situation that faces Yato and Hiyori in their journey.
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