Fukusuke is a “lucky man” figure with a short stature and oversized head. He always wears a kataginu, a kind of vest with exaggerated shoulders. While this kind of garment was historically worn by samurai or court officials, some say that Fukusuke was based on a wealthy Kyoto merchant (1). Fukusuke is often seen in business establishments, and is today is treated as a common good luck icon.
If you’re a fan of The Beatles, Fukusuke may look familiar; he, along with Marilyn Monroe and W.C. Fields and a host of others, is one of the celebrities featured on the cover of their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album (1967). Fukusuke appears in the lower left hand corner, just above the big red B, on the album cover.
(1) Frederic, Louis and Kathe Roth (translator). Japan Encyclopedia. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002, p. 219.