Hotei (Ho Ti, Laughing Buddha, Maitreya)

A typical Taoist image of Hotei, one of the seven Japanese “gods of good fortune” (Shichi Fukujin). He is usually depicted as a smiling Buddhist monk, often with a fan and a sack of gifts or gold bars. A patron of children and the less fortunate, Hote is often pictured surrounded by laughing children. Figures of Ho Ti are often kept as good luck charms. Hotei is often thought to be a representation of Chinese Buddhist teacher Budaishi, and as Budaishi was believed by devotees to be the incarnation of Matreiya, the “future Buddha” who is to come, Hotei is often considered synonymous with Maitreya. It is there fore not uncommon (although confusing) to find Hotei figures referred to as “Buddhas.”

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