Daikoku, also known as Daikoku-ten, is one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japan.
You may also hear these gods referred to as the Seven Gods of Good Luck and Good Fortune.
During many Japanese festivals, it is customary to wear a character mask as part of the festivities.
Daikoku is one of those masks, and it will definitely give the wearer a jolly appearance!
Enough to drive even the worst demons away!
Many tattoo artists are inspired by the Seven Lucky Gods when they draw their designs.
There are those who get each god tattooed on them as a large back piece.
Another popular design is the Daikoku mask.
Because of its cartoon-ish appearance, the design can be a fun one for tattoo artists to play with.
A Daikoku mask looks amazing in a traditional Japanese tattoo style, but it also works for a Neo-traditional style tattoo.
In a Neo-traditional style, cartoonish elements can be elevated with pops of bright color, and even have a slightly 3 dimensional appearance.
But before you rush out to get a Daikoku mask tattoo, let’s ask ourselves about the god behind the tattoo.
Who is Daikoku, what does Daikoku symbolize, and what meaning does a Daikoku mask tattoo have?
Let’s learn more about this joyful character and his back-story.
Who Are the Seven Lucky Gods?
At any point in life, you will likely have one area you’re focusing on.
Whether that’s your home life, your career, or learning a new skill; no matter what energy you’re looking to cultivate, there is likely a lucky god who corresponds with that area of expertise.
The Seven Lucky Gods include Daikoku, Ebisu, Hotei, Benten, Jurojin, Fukurokuju & Bishamon.
These gods are unique in that they don’t belong to one specific religious tradition.
They have been pulled from different Asian belief systems including Shinto, Hindu, Taoist, and Buddhist gods and saints.
Who is Daikoku and What Does he Represent?
Daikoku is originally from the Hindu belief system.
The original depiction of this god is unrecognizable from Daikoku, however.
First of all, Daikoku was originally known as Mahākāla, which roughly translates to “great black.”
Mahākāla was a female goddess, and she was benevolent in a less jolly way than the Daikoku known well in Japan today.
Mahākāla was painted as a dark black character with an angry expression.
Carrying a bag of gold, she was said to be able to bestow fortune on lucky people and families.
Naturally she was often found inside of Indian temples and homes as a result.
People in India would often place Mahākāla statues or tapestries in the kitchen, and this is how she was introduced to China and Japan.
It was because of this placement in the kitchen that she eventually evolved into a god of rice and rice fields.
As this tradition solidified, Daikoku was given a happier expression, a different gender and a new name.
He is now a jolly, silly looking character.
He has paper white skin, rosy cheeks, red lips, a big smile, and black facial hair.
Daikoku is usually seen with his wish granting mallet and a bag slung over his shoulder.
The bag still contains gold- perhaps the only recognizable feature from Mahākāla to Daikoku.
He is sometimes seen sitting on bags of rice, furthering his reputation for bringing prosperity to the home.
Because of his association with rice fields, Daikoku is a natural patron for farmers.
He symbolizes wealth, but is most appropriate when considering bountiful food and good crops.
There are other lucky gods who make more sense for financial wealth and business transactions.
Daikoku and Ebisu
Though there are 7 Lucky Gods, Daikoku and Ebisu break apart from the pack at times.
As two jolly, roly poly characters, they are often seen together.
Ebisu is a fisherman, so he is usually called upon by fishers, trades people and other merchants.
Because Daikoku and Ebisu are both associated with prosperity, particularly with regard to food, the two can be found painted together as the patron saints for many businesses in Japan.
There are even streets and bus stations named after this dynamic duo!
When do People Wear Daikoku Masks?
Mask work is an important element of Japanese Noh Theatre, but every day people may don masks at all kinds of festivals for different reasons.
Often, the masks are meant to spread good cheer and frighten away evil spirits.
There is a Daikoku Festival (known as Daikoku Matsuri) at the Kanda Myojin Shrine in Japan for New Year.
During this time, the shrine becomes absolutely packed with people looking for some good luck from Daikoku.
The festival lasts 3 days, and there will be many Daikoku charms for sale to bring you luck in the coming months!
You will naturally see a lot of Daikoku masks during this time.
What Does a Daikoku Tattoo Mean?
If you choose to get a Daikoku or Daikoku mask tattoo, it would make sense that you’re looking for some optimism and prosperity in your life!
This is also a common tattoo for people who work in the food industry, or as artisans.
Common Themes in Daikoku Tattoos
If you are getting a Daikoku mask rather than Daikoku himself, you may want to have the mask stand for itself- or surround it with lucky symbols associated with Daikoku.
Daikoku isn’t often seen without his satchel or lucky mallet, for example. And a bag of rice never hurts!
Daikoku Tattoo Ideas
If you come from a Japanese background or have strong ties to the culture, a Daikoku tattoo may be a jolly reminder of your roots.
Whether or not you believe in good luck charms, they can’t hurt right?
Still not feeling superstitious?
Check out our gallery for some inspired designs.