The patron of the weak and of children, Hotei is the Japanese god of happiness and laughter and the "wisdom of being content". He's comparable to the Buddhistic Mi-lo-Fo and is usually described as a very fat man with a big ol' belly carrying a large sack (getting the Santa Claus vibes here?) of "precious things" on his back.

One of the seven Shichi Fukujin, Hotei is also known as the Wagon Priest and may sit in an old car drawn by boys...not reindeer.

Japanese version of Chinese folk deity, Bu-dai. Occasionally called the Laughing Buddha, or mi-lo-fo, but his identification as a Maitreya was probably ret-conned. The fat belly indicates wealth, and the smile indicates his pleasant disposition.

Transcribed from my "Hotei: God of Wits and Bartenders - On a Magnetic Base!" statue:

The History of Hotei
Hotei was a real person, Kaishi in Chinese, who died in 961. He was a zen priest who cited Buddhist teachings and roamed around looking scruffy. The Chinese called him Ho-Tei-Shi, which means "old cloth bag." But he was a wonderful speaker and storyteller.

(I don't have much to add to this one, but it's something nonetheless)

He was also an accurate fortune-teller, but only to those who wanted to know the truth. He ate meat and fish, even though those were forbidden to Buddhist priests.

Hotei is regarded as Miroku of legend.

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