Among the many images and designs that are found on Satsuma pottery, vases, plates and figures are those of ancient wise men, versed in the arts of knowledge, magic and power.
These people are referred to as the Japanese Immortals, men who were of such greatness that they were unable to die, forced to live a life of study, worship and poverty. The Japanese symbol for Immortal is made up from 2 other elements meaning "mountain person". Often, the immortal would be a person who had lived in the mountains which were revered by the Japanese as places of magic and awe.
The Japanese immortals are depicted frequently on prints and in paintings from early Japan, right up to this day. The 3 gods, Daikoku, Fukurokuju and Ebisu are pictured frequently playing a game of Go. Also deities such as the Seven Gods of Good Fortune or luck were depicted, their promise to the people of the world was of endless riches, wealth and good health.
As with other Satsuma pottery, the images of these immortals features on a number of different items. Satsuma Vases are lavished with the images of the immortals either together in a group or often on their own. Although smaller items such as the satsuma buttons were usually decorated with flowers or plants, the faces of the gods were also hand painted on to them with enamel paint.
As with most religious or mythical imagery, the satsuma immortals are shown as images that convey good luck, fortune, peace of happiness. They are shown as figures of peace who are fun loving, meditative or at comfort with each other and the rest of the world. Possibly images that were supposed to reflect upon the owners of the satsumaware items.