The Icon of Billiken

The Billiken figure originated in 1908, when a sculptor from Missouri named Florence Pretz, dreamed in her sleep of a figure of a pointed red head. The figure included an inscription: "You rub my feet and you don't worry, and be happy". So, Pretz illustrated what she saw in a contest where she exhibited it as a sculpture, now regarded as the origin of the Billiken figure. It was also selected as a political caricature for a Presidential election at the time, and was loved by many Americans as one of the four lucky charms until the end of 1930's. A year after the birth of Billiken figure, a wholesaler, Kandaya Tamurakoma (presently known as Tamurakoma & Co., Ltd.) imported and introduced Billiken to Japan to combine with the Japanese Seven Deities of Good Fortune to form the new Eight Deities of Good Fortune. Presently, Billiken is known as the guardian angel for Tsutenkaku, the symbolic tower of Osaka, and the public image is now well accepted in Japan.