I just wrote my first post over at IB!
Here’s a preview:
… Note: there will be SPOILERS.
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“The Fire New Year” – A poor man and woman are celebrating the New Year, making do with what very little they have, when a weary traveler knocks on their door. He needs a place to stay for the night, and none of the other houses would accept him. The couple agrees, and their kindness is immediately rewarded – the traveler is really the god Miruku, who’d been searching for a place to bestow his luck.
To the people of Okinawa’s Yaeyama islands, Miruku (“Miroku” in other parts of Japan) is a harvest god and bringer of good fortune. “Miruku parades” wind through village streets during harvest festivals, led by someone dressed as the god. And some believe that on New Year’s Eve, Miruku – in this case known as Hotei – sails with six other “Lucky Gods” to various towns “to dispense happiness to believers.”
Miroku is also a very important figure in Buddhism – he is a version of Maitreya, the Future Buddha who will save humanity from its most corrupt state. It makes sense, then, that “The Fire New Year” also speaks of the old couple’s faith in the future – when asked whether they’d prefer wealth or youth, they choose youth, reasoning that money can corrupt one’s mind, while youth would help them work toward a better life. In other words, they don’t ask for instant (monetary) gratification, because they trust that their future will be happy enough.
See the rest here! Go on! There’ll be gods and goddesses, demons, fireworks and loud music! (not literally, but it’s still fun!)