Ebisu

Ebisu
Artist rendering of Ebisu.

Ebisu

Ebisu (恵比寿), also known as the Leech Child (蛭子, Hiru-ko) was according to the Kojiki the first child of Izanami and Izanagi. He was a limbless child and so they placed him in a reed boat and cast him out to sea as they did not want him.1

The Nihongi agrees with this account but adds that the reed boat was the Spirit Torinoiwakusufune. The Nihongi also gives a second version in which the Leech Child is their second child born after Ahaji no Shima. A third version states he was placed in the boat as he reached the age of three and could still not walk, and that the reason he was born deformed was due to the fact that Izanami spoke before her husband after they had walked around the Pillar of Heaven. There is even a fourth version which goes on to state Ebisu was born after the Sun Goddess Amaterasu and before the Moon God Tsukiyomi.2

It wasn’t until later, in modern Japan he became known as Ebisu, associated with wealth and prosperity.1

Footnotes

1. Yasumaro. O, translated by Gustav Heldt. (2014) “Kojiki. An Account of Ancient Matters”. New York: Columbia University Press.
2. Aston. W.G. (1896) “Nihongi Volume 1: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD697”. Tuttle Publishing.

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