March, 2014

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at
previous issues.



Happy Smiles on the Street

Hello, again.
I want to introduce you some happy faces on the streets of Karatsu.
They are Stone God Ebisu-sama.
Ebisu-sama is one of the Seven Lucky Gods of folklore. Common people worshipped Ebisu-sama first as the god of good harvest in fishery, and then gradually, also in agriculture or commerce. In Karatsu, here and there on the corners of the streets, there remain some stone statues of Ebisu-sama since Edo Period.
Please meet our happy smiles, and be happy together.Don't miss the Sea-bream he holds. Sea-breams are happy fish in Japan. When we dine at a happy occasion, Sea-bream, Tai in Japanese, is always prepared..

First, please refer to the explanation of Ebisu from Wikipedia.

Ebisu (恵比須, 恵比寿, 夷, 戎), also transliterated Yebisu (ゑびす – see historical kana orthography) or called Hiruko (蛭子) or Kotoshiro-nushi-no-kami (事代主神), is the Japanese god of fishermen, luck, and workingmen, as well as the guardian of the health of small children. He is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神, Shichifukujin), and the only one of the seven to originate from Japan.

Ebisu-sama of Oishimachi Street in Karatsu

January the 10th is the Festival of the Oishimachi Ebisu-sama.
The small shrine on the street corner is decorated with curtain and lanterns.

I went too early to see the festival.
People were preparing the donation foods for Ebisu-sama.

People who pass by can drink a ladle of Sake.
A plate of salt is on top of the barrel.
A sip of salt, and a mouthful of Sake.
Purify yourself!
You will be blessed with a good luck from Ebisu-sama!

A happy smile!
Ebisu-sama of Kakomachi Street.
You may hear his laughing voice.
Why don't you laugh together?

This Ebisu-sama on Higashi Karatsu Street has lost his nose.
He has also lost his right arm.
Still he is smiling.
A glass of Sake was donated by some good man.

This Ebisu-sama is also on the street of Higashi Karatsu, quite near to Yoyokaku.
Lucky enough, he has a house.New year's rice cake, orange, and sake as the donation.

The biggest Shrine in Karatsu is the Karatsu Shrine. Every year, on January 20th, we have a festival for Katanamachi Street Ebisu-sama.
Many people come to pray for the good business, good harvest, and good fishing..

Good luck decoration is sold. Very expensive!

Girls called Miko in white and red kimono help the festival.
You will see Mikos in big shrines in Japan. They are staff of Shinto shrines. Only girls before marriage.
These days, highschool girls do this.

The small, but good enough shrine for Katanamachi Ebisu sama.
Katanamachi was a prosperous street in Edo Period. So the Ebisu-sama got a nice house.

This picture is not good. Sorry. But please imagine how happily this Ebisu-sama (right), together with his friend god Daikoku-sama, left) is laughing.

Sake is given to people here also.
This special old Ebisu-sama is our home God. He has been sitting and laughing all these 120 years in our Shrine Shelf of Yoyokaku.
Thanks to Him, the 4 generations of our family have been happy here in this town.

Lacquer is falling, but we feel He is still beautiful with his big smile.

I hope you will feel happy after meeting these happy smiles.
If you smile, the Fortune will smile at you too.

Thank you very much for joining me.
I hope you will visit us again next month.

 Mail to Harumi Okochi