Japanese gods, mythical or otherwise, are filled with legend. Legends of power, life, experience, strength and knowledge. Jurojin, long thought of as the incarnation of the southern pole star, is known as the Japanese God of longevity and of the elderly. While legendary, it is thought that he was based on an older man, a real man, who lived hundreds of years ago, one who was wise, kind and all-knowing. In images, Jurojin, also spelled Juroujin, is seen to be an old man with a very long white beard.
You may be familiar with the pictures or paintings of Jurojin sitting under a peach tree, contemplating life. These pictures have become symbols of the wisdom that can be proffered by the elderly. Jurojin is often seen to be sitting with, walking with, or riding with tortoises or deers, both symbols of long life in Japan. Peaches are also a symbol of long life, thought to be filled with healthy properties including antioxidants.
Jurojin is knowledge. He is health. He is a symbol of long life and ageing. He is also a symbol of respect, and it is for this reason that so many Japanese like to display paintings or sketches of Jurojin in their homes. He epitimises the value of family, learning and respect. He is also a jovial man, one who carries a book, or a scroll, and always a cane. He enjoys his food and drink, rice and wine, and shows how life should be and can be lived to the full.