The Laughing Buddha also Happy Hotei is the nickname for Budai or Pu-Tai, which means “Cloth Sack”. Budai was a real zen monk who lived in China during the 10th century, and he has always been portrayed as a smiling or laughing fat man. Though he is called the Laughing Buddha, do not confuse him with Gautama Buddha, the sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.
Budai or Hotei (in Japanese) is one of the seven lucky gods in
Japan, and you can find statues of him in many shrines and temples
just like in China and other East Asian countries.