Osaka’s Famous God Billiken, Who Is He Really?

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  • Even with all the advanced technology and modernity of Japan, some people still remain believers of a number of religious traditions and other such beliefs. The majority of people who have a religion are Buddhist or Shinto and especially for the old folks, they believe in plenty of gods and deities that help them with their daily lives.

    Billiken intro

    There are thousands of these beliefs that are present in Japan and are spread across different regions, tribes and cultures mainly from Japanese mythology and folklore. But in Osaka, there is one God that is quite famous and easily spotted, Billiken.

    Who is Billiken?

    Billiken wooden statue

    Known in Osaka as “The God of Things As They Ought To Be”, Billiken is quite a famous god who you can easily spot especially in the Shinsekai district. Billiken has a mischievous smile with pointed elf-like ears, an elongated head and looks quite like a Buddha. But one thing that is different about Billiken compared to other gods is that Billiken is not Japanese! Billiken was actually made by an art teacher from America and is a mascot for the Saint Louis University and Saint Louis University High School.

    Billiken mascot

    History of Billiken

    Billiken golden statue

    Billiken was once a representation of an amusement park in the Shinsekai District named Luna Park. When the park closed down, the Billiken statue went missing. In 1980, a replica of the Billiken was placed in the second generation Tsutenkaku Tower. In 2012, the old Billiken was replaced with a new one because the statue was already dark and worn out.
    Many people who visit Osaka take pictures with Billiken statues, place donations and rub its feet for luck. There are many shops that also sell merchandise like small statues, plush dolls and other souvenir items. Although there are many statues spread all throughout Osaka, people still take the time to visit the replica in Tsutenkaku Tower.

    If you ever get the chance to visit Osaka, make sure to check out the Billikens in the vicinity. The God of Things As They Ought To Be might just grant your wishes!

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