Daikokuten: The Japanese God of Wealth and Theft

Arkane Curiosities

There aren’t many deities out there that actually encourage you to steal from their temples. But Daikokuten does just this. As the Japanese god of wealth, he (or sometimes she) understands that you might have a break a few rules to climb up the ladder of riches.

One of the Seven Lucky Gods

Daikokuten is one of the seven lucky gods who brings abundance and good fortune. Also referred to as Daikoku or Daikokutenno, this god his roots in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Originally a deity of Hindu origin known as Mahakala, he was a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva. As Buddhism spread to Japan in the 6th century, Mahakala became entwined with the Shinto god Ōkuninushi.

God of Darkness

Represented as 大黒天 in Kanji, Daikokuten means “God of the Great Darkness.” It might seem strange that a good luck god is associated with the dark, but this has more to do with those sneaking around to seek their fortune. One of his several forms is feminine, known as Daikokunyo (大黒女), meaning “She of the Great Blackness,” or Daikokutennyo (大黒天女), meaning “She of the Great Black Heavens.”

The God of Five Cereals

The term “five cereals” refers to a group of staple grains that form the foundation of traditional Japanese agricultural — rice, wheat, barley, soybeans, and millet. Daikokuten symbolizes the bountiful harvest and abundant yields of these crops. By invoking Daikokuten’s divine presence, farmers express their gratitude for the life-sustaining nourishment that the five cereals bestow upon them.

Magical Mallet

Daikokuten is often depicted carrying a magical mallet known as a “Uchide no kozuchi” (the Mallet of Fortune). He uses this weapon to squash demons who might bring bad luck. According to the myth, when the mallet is swung, it can grant any wish, producing abundant crops and endless riches.

Stealing Your Way to Good Luck

The tradition of fukunusubi (theft of fortune) holds that anyone who can steal the divine figure of Daikokuten would gain good fortune. That is, unless you are caught in the act. Daikokuten bestows luck only to those bold enough to grasp it. Also known as “She of the Great Blackness,” he is also the god of thieves. 

So nab one yourself, but be sure not to get caught. With Daikokuten, you have to steal your good luck. 

Tim Kane

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