Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]
Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]

Billiken - [Charm/Critter/Yokai]

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Billiken - (JP: ビリケン) - [Charm/Fae/Critter/Yokai, 'Diety']

•About: A fairy-turned-lucky-diety, with elf-like ears, a pointy head, sharp eyes; a pleased expression, a wide smile & huge feet! - Billiken is often touted as "The God of Things as They Ought to Be." often seated on a throne with a halo above his head. Billiken charms are often said to be "Lucky to buy one, even luckier to be gifted one & even luckier if you steal it." - "Rub his tummy or tickle his toes, You'll have good luck, so the story goes..."  Today, Billiken is considered a symbol of good fortune and wealth, especially in Saint Louis, Chicago, USA. & Shinsekai, Osaka, Japan.

...In Japan, Billiken is the (unofficial) character mascot for Shinsekai, Osaka, Billiken appears widely in the commerce area around the Tsūtenkaku tower, (The tower itself also holds a very special statue on the 5th floor, Tamurakoma (Kandaya Tamura Shoten) registered it as a trademark in 1911 and used it for their promotional goods and as their product mascot.) Billiken soon became the mascot for Luna Park & helped bring tourism to the tower and surrounding area. - it's often said that because of his mirthful grin & pointed head, he was perhaps mistaken as something akin to the "Shichifukujin." (Particularly, the 'rubbing for luck' is akin to 'Hotei.') - Gigantic golden-coloured greeting statues can be found decorating the marketplace today and the idols can be found in shops all over the city, Billiken can also sometimes be found enshrined at various religious sites.

[image source]

In America, Billiken is probably best known as the Official Saint Louis University mascot - A "Buddha Billiken Statue" can be found on the college grounds, (students rub his belly for luck with tests & sports.) - in Alaska, Billiken became a popular subject for ebony & tooth carvings. - in Hawaii, a Billiken with a crown is a symbol for the Freemasons, order of the royal jesters.

...But quite surprisingly: the origin of this 'deity' isn't ancient, and the design & statue actually originate as a mascot by a young, 21-year-old, Japan Obsessed, Chicago Art Teacher from Kansas City, Missouri. Florence Pretz, who claimed that the Billiken 'came to her in a dream' sometime in the late 1890s. -

["buddha billiken" source is SLU university website]

• Early History, Origin & Appearances:

...What's more surprising is that the Billiken name and lore as a fairy seems to have something of a Canadian origin: Florences inspiration for Billiken's name & "fairy nature" was taken from 'Songs from Vagabondia' - a poem by Canadian poet, Bliss Carman [First Published in 1893]

"O Mr. Moon,
We're all here!
Honey-bug, Thistledrift,
White-imp, Weird,
Wryface, Billiken,
Quidnunc, Queered;
We're all here,
And the coast is clear!
Moon, Mr. Moon,
When you comin' down"

[The section of said poem which features the earliest mention of "Billiken" the actual poem is quite a few verses longer.]

Billiken’s first known published appearance was as a fairy in a Canadian magazine called The Canada West, A Magazine of the Sunset Provinces in 1907. - Florence Pretz along with her writer and roommate, Sara Hamilton Birchall. - Illustrated several short, page-long fairy stories about the Billikens adventures from 1907-1910.

[While Billiken Slept. Illustration by Florence Pretz 1907.]

Florence eventually filed to patent Billiken as a mascot, and filed for "the statue" & the "statue's throne" design sometime in 1905, it successfully went through by 1908. the advertisements seemed to flaunt him as a 'god of luck' [Also meaning that technically Billiken became the world's first "Patented Diety"] ...Soon enough, several advertisements were run and the Billiken exploded in popularity, both locally and around the world. - Miss Pretz said her intent was to “make an image of hope and happiness to sort of live up to”. 

[1909 article]

[1910 advertisement]

...However, due to some mismanagement & scandals on the company's part, the 'luck 'that Billiken brought to Florence didn't last very long and Florence lost the patent to the Billiken statues sometime in 1915. – [why is fairly complicated, so I won't recount the entire incident.] – But it seems that Florence was taken advantage of by others in the company and was quoted as being fed up with the craze and even wanting to "smash a statue if given the chance."  

'Billiken' & the statue design then soon entered the public domain: and as they say, the rest is history...

• Further reading:

Now with 124+ years of history around the world, there's a ton more to say about Billiken & surrounding subjects. - The subject as a whole makes for a fascinating deep dive: You can learn a lot more specifics about Chicago's Billikin mascot on the Saint Louis University website. A deal more about the creature's Alaskan lore & his influence on carvings at the "Church of Good Luck" website (as well as browse through a bunch of luck charms & dolls featuring billy.) you can also read a full timeline of Billiken's history in Japan over on the "Official Billiken webpage."]

• Pop-Culture Appearances:

• Movies: Billiken has appeared in a couple of movies, the earliest being Romance-drama Waterloo Bridge [1940] (where in he's used as a plot device.) and then starring in his own comedy-drama film Billiken [1996]

• Music: back in the day, it seems that Billiken inspired a lot of rag-time music: [Billiken, 1909] [The Billiken Man. 1909] [Billiken two step 1912] [the billiken rag 1913] Billiken is often the subject of a number of modern songs and musics as well, but theres too many to list! look em up!

• Games: Billiken has appeared in various Shin Megami tensei and persona games. as a recruitable demon. Most recently, the statue itself appeared in persona 5 strikers. Rubbing his feet grants you exp!

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Sticker Art by Samkalensky Part of my yokai/fearsome critters collection of stickers, if you enjoyed this please check my shop and consider supporting me on Patreon for more!

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