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When traveling around Japan, there are a number of different statuary that will quickly become familiar: the komainu (lion dogs) that stand at either side of a Shinto shrine entrance; the numerous orange torii gates; and, of course, there is the Buddha in his many forms.
The godai is the five elements; the gorintou is the three-dimensional representation of that concept. It can be best described as a stack of geometric forms,like a totem pole or a particularly elegant child’s stack of blocks. A cube forms the base, with a sphere on top of that, then a pyramid, then a crescent, like a new moon lying on its side, and at the top, a form reminiscent of a lotus flower..
The godai isn’t so ubiquitous, or perhaps striking, but once you know it, you may notice it more often. The word godai combines the kanji for five (go) and great (dai), the name for one of the fundamental concepts in Japanese culture: the five elements. Based on concepts that came to China from India, the godai are universal: Earth, water, fire, wind and void. Each element is said to represent a certain tendency in the world, whether it be in physics, in spirituality or even just in personality. Together they are said to explain the nature of things, of action, of societies, and of people.
In Japanese cosmology, one by one, beginning with the most basic, they are:
Chi (earth): Represented by the square, chi (not to be confused with ki, the essential energy of the cosmos) is the fundamental element, the base upon which all else rests. It is the element that engages all five human senses. Earth is basic matter, often represented by (and in) stone, which is not sentient, doesn’t move of its own accord, and has no great motivating energy. Chi is acted-upon only. It is inanimate. In terms of personality, it is similarly inert: Stubbornness, yes, but also stability, and heft, and gravity: Chi is basic, fundamental, even dumb; but as a quality, it is also dependable, sure, solid. It is a good base on which build the godai.
Sui (water): Represented by a circle, or sphere, sui sits upon the solid base of chi, but look at the difference! Instead of stable and unmoving, sui is ready to move at the slightest movement, a ball ready to roll – or, perhaps, to bounce. Sui flows, representing the formless things of the world, including the emotions: ever changing, ebbing and flowing, like blood, like the tides. Where chi is earth, sui is water, but it is also plants, which grow from the combination of earth and water, reaching for light, expanding and twisting, but forever anchored.
Ka (fire): A flame-like pyramid represents fire, sitting upon the sphere of sui, pointing upward, the motivating energy that lifts, that animates, and that ultimately destroys. Animals, including humans, are ka, are fire, are creativity, are life itself. The way in which the body burns food for fuel, the way that sunlight animates the combination of chi and sui to make plants, the heat that combustion produces…all are expressions of ka. Motivation, intention, desire, drive, passion…these are all ka.
Fu (wind): Atop the triangle/pyramid of ka sits the crescent-shaped fu, representing wind, emblematic of things that move, that have freedom, that fly through the air. Fu is the mind in action, thoughts flying about, our mental agility and freedom to create anything out of nothing. Air is invisible, it can’t be touched or smelled or even heard…until it connects with one of the other elements. Then everything happens: fires blaze, water fall as rain, dust moves across the face of the planet. Fu isn’t just air: fu is air in motion. Fu is motivation, growth, change, all forms of movement. Fu is freedom, it is breath, the breath of life, of compassion – even, perhaps, of wisdom. Fu is spirit.
Ku (void): The fifth element sits atop even fu’s crescent, a shape that seems to combine the circle of water with the rising energy of fire, but is most recognizable as that central Buddhist icon, the lotus flower, which holds the jewel of enlightenment in its center. Despite that all-importance, ku represents not everything, but nothing: the void. Ku is emptiness, ku is…not. Ku can be translated as sky, as heaven…but at its core, ku is the absence, the hole at the center of who we think we are, the womb from whence we came, knowing nothing, having nothing; ku is the death that looms before us.
And yet, this fifth element is also our spirit, our knowing beyond thoughts, the mystery we glimpse from time to time as we cycle through the other elements. Ku is the source of our creativity, the source of the creativity of the world.
And thus, the godai, the great five, expresses the very structure not just of physical reality, but of our very personalities – as well as the structure of the Universe as well.
By DAVID WATTS BARTON
The 5 Elements in Japanese: What They Mean and Where to Find Them
Youre rooted, Brandon.
A friend from Switzerland told me this one day. She was telling me how I reminded her of solid earth and trees. To her, I was grounded and stable.
Have you ever heard a natural element being used to describe someones personality?
Her speech flows like water.
He has a fiery personality.
Although someones personality cant actually be on fire, you understand what the statement means.
You can easily visualize the natural elements in the sentence—speech that flows like water is smooth and soft, while a fiery personality is outspoken, opinionated and feisty.
But the basic elements differ slightly from country to country.
In Japan, the five elements are known as 五大 (ごだい) or godai and include earth, water, fire, wind and void.
These are Buddhist concepts, but you can find them in everyday life—from science to ourselves.
Well break each one down soon, but first I want to give you a lay of the land.
We dont just recognize the elements when were taking a walk in nature, but also in ourselves. We might need someone to point it out (like my Swiss friend did for me), but once we recognize our own elemental traits, its in our best interest to own them.
Because we can use them to be better people and speak better Japanese!
Sounds odd, but think about it. Compare yourself to your younger self. Whos more confident? For me, its definitely my older self. Because I know myself better.
Once you know yourself better, you speak with more confidence.
This is both in your target and native language!
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4 Tips for Using the Elements in Japanese to Speak More Fluently
You now know that we see the godai—or, natural elements—in our daily lives. Now, lets dig into how we can use them strategically to speak better Japanese.
Listen to Native Speakers Talk
Before were able to use the elements in Japanese conversations ourselves, we first have to recognize them in native speakers.
Just like a baby copies their parents mouth movements when speaking, we must mimic how native speakers use the elements in conversation.
I recommend listening to different video and audio of native speakers and pinpointing what elements are most persuasive to you in their conversation. Thats a start to see what elements you are drawn to or repulsed by.
Is a certain comedian a bit too docile for your tastes?
Maybe you prefer passionate and intense speakers that employ the Fire element.
Or perhaps you prefer the silent actor in a drama that most resembles your calm, meditative demeanor. That could be more Void vibes.
Try watching some videos on FluentU to get a feeling for how these elements play out when Japanese people speak to each other.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
It naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You’ll learn real Japanese as it’s spoken in real life.
Just take a look at the wide variety of authentic video content available in the program. Here’s a small sample:
You’ll discover tons of new Japanese vocabulary through these great clips.
Don’t worry about your skill level being an issue when it comes to understanding the language. FluentU makes native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts.
Tap on any word to look it up instantly.
You’ll see definitions, in-context usage examples and helpful illustrations. Simply tap “Add to” to send interesting vocabulary words to your personal vocab list for later review.
FluentU even uses a learning program which adapts to your specific needs to turn every video into a language learning lesson and get you to actively practice your newly-learned language skills.
Access FluentU on the website to use it with your computer or tablet or, better yet, start learning Japanese on the go with the FluentU app for iOS or Android!
By browsing FluentUs library of hundreds of Japanese videos, you immerse yourself in the Japanese language and culture right from home.
Each video is organized according to level, which ranges from beginner to advanced. Before you start the video, youll learn key vocabulary and grammar points the video contains.
While watching the video, if theres still a word you dont know, simply click on it in the interactive subtitles to instantly see translations, example sentences and images related to the word.
At the end, take a self-quiz to see how well you learned the videos material. And finally, never forget a word again with FluentUs spaced repetition software (SRS) flashcard system that stores new vocabulary into your long-term memory.
Ready to give FluentU a shot? You can sign up for a free trial today!
Practice Using the Elements in Japanese By Yourself
You can prepare yourself mentally by getting an overview of the Japanese language and cultural basics before jumping into a conversation.
This will allow you to focus when you do start speaking with other people.
Then, once youre in the heat of a conversation, you can practice balancing the five elements with your conversation partner.
Watch (and Pay Attention to) Anime
When youre by yourself, you can pinpoint elements in use through your favorite anime, but make sure you understand the common phrases first.
And when you finally sit down for some Anki reps or reading comprehension time, you can tie it all together with timeless phrases that reflect nature. These phrases contain the exact kanji of the elements, so it could prove useful to remember them in the long run.
Enhance Your Listening Skills
The most important skill needed for using elements in Japanese effectively is listening.
You must be able to listen to the emotional layering underneath the words and phrases you hear flowing out of native speakers.
Starting with listening to yourself is a good first step.
When you understand how youre emotionally built, you can work to deploy the godai at your will, rather than be at the mercy of them.
By now, youre probably asking yourself: what are these five elements really?
Lets dive into that now!
What Are the 5 Elements in Japanese?
The godai consists of five basic elements. These elements are pretty well-known in every culture, but each one adds its own finishing touches.
In Japanese, the elements are:
土 (つち) — Earth represents foundation, being acted upon, stability and stubbornness.
水 (みず) — Water represents flow, change, emotion and adaptability.
火 (ひ) — Fire represents creativity, motivation, passion, intensity and desire.
風 (かぜ) — Wind represents growth, open-minded, wisdom and freedom.
And finally, 空 (そら) — Void represents the source of human spirit, everything, nothing, absence and death.
Read through that list one more time. Do any of these characteristics relate to you? Does one particular element show up in your life or personality more prominently than the others?
Yes, I know.
It can be hard to apply some of these natural traits in a concrete way.
Especially void. How can something be everything and nothing at the same time?
If youre having trouble pinpointing what element you are most of the time, try to think of singular moments. How do you usually react in conversations? Does it change depending on the other person? Or the topic?
Once you start recognizing these elements, you can start implementing them in your speech more—including your Japanse speech!
Personally, I find myself using wind and fire the most.
I value the freedom of wind above all else.
And I use the passion and creativity of fire to reach for it.
But I deploy the stability and stubbornness of earth frequently.
And whenever I can, I try to face void by acknowledging that well all eventually disappear, leaving our friends and family behind.
Whenever that gets too heavy, I use water to change my mood or get into the flow (like when writing this post).
Thats the beauty of the godai concept—you can see how they all eventually slip into our lives.
Where to Find the Elements in Japanese Culture
Now that you have an understanding of what the elements in Japanese are and how we can use them in conversation, lets see how we can keep our new tools sharpened.
Finding fresh content with the godai on full display is key. So lets explore the different areas of Japanese culture that utilize their full power!
Since these elements started in nature, why not go back to the source?
Start off by connecting the elements with Japans natural sites.
Unlike things like personality traits, nature sites can give you a clearer picture of what the elements actually are.
So when the time comes during a conversation, you can clearly see the godai dancing underneath the words of the person youre speaking with.
I mentioned anime earlier, but I didnt go into what parts of anime we can find the elements.
Have you ever seen symbols on the characters clothing that represent some aspect of their personality?
Or the physical appearance matching their cold or hot or stable personality?
Anime allows more freedom to visualize the elements in the characters, world, and the relationship between them.
When you watch anime, do your best to recognize the elements being used through the special talents, personalities and relationships of the characters.
These visual cues in the anime will stick with you and help you understand the elements better, such as how theyre used in everyday life.
Design and Architecture
Japanese culture holds almost nothing back when it comes to expressing the godai. And one of the hotspots for finding them is in design and architecture!
Here the elements are embedded into the work and at times, may not be so obvious.
But with physical art and structures, we can experience the feeling of harnessing the elements with masterful skill.
The effort that goes into exploring the subtle nuances of the elements and then turning them into structures we enjoy is quite impressive.
Another human feat that takes massive effort is cinema.
The population of a small town stands on a movie set working towards the singular goal of creating a piece of art to move audiences around the world.
This art can do many things, but Japanese directors have shown time and again that nature has a major influence on their art.
Its in your best interest to set some study time aside to watch Japanese movies for the heavy influence nature has on cinema. By doing so, youre guaranteed to recognize some elements!
The elements started out as spiritual concepts that have been used throughout history for understanding our world and ourselves.
Now we can use them to improve our Japanese language skills!
By mastering the elements, not only will we impress native speakers, but we can also add plenty of personality to our speech.
Brandon Chin is a Jamaican-Chinese hybrid and sees the world just the same: a mash-up of different stories. He spends his time asking questions through his novels. Based in Fukuoka, he helps you travel to Japan virtually through his podcast, Raw Japan and his free daily newsletter here: brandonchin.net.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Godai (Japanese philosophy)
Five elements in Japanese philosophy: earth (地), water (水), fire (火), wind (風), void (空)
Godai(五大, lit. "five – great, large, physical, form") are the five elements in Japanese Buddhist thought of earth (chi), water (sui), fire (ka), wind (fu), and void (ku). The concept is related to Buddhist Mahābhūta and came over China from India.
The Japanese Buddhist concept of gogyo, which stems from Chinese wuxing, is distinguishable from godai by the fact that the functional phases of wood and metal within gogyo are replaced by the formative elements of void and the wind (air) in godai.Godai is attributed to esoteric Japanese Buddhism during the eleventh century CE in relation to the idea of gorin (the "five wheels" or the "five rings").Godai and gorin are also seen within the practice of ninjutsu, where these principles became an essential aspect of the esoteric ninja teachings (the ninpo-mikkyo); whereas the theory of gogyo moved into the functional theory of traditional Japanese medicine and exoteric Buddhism.
The godai is a static or inert philosophical understanding of the traditional Japanese elements and study, similar to the Greek classical elements. The four main elements or building blocks are Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void is non substantial.
[In mikkyo it is taught that] All physical aspects of existence originate from a common source and can be classified in of the godai five elemental manifestations of physical. Chi, or the earth, symbolizes solid matter. Sui, the water, symbolizes liquids. Ka, the fire, is the symbol of combustion, or the elements in an energy-releasing state. Fu, the wind, symbolizes gases. Ku, the void, is representative of the formless subatomic energy that is the basis for the structure of all things. This godai symbolism is used to provide a symbolic structure for the teaching of effective physical combat principles in ninjutsu.
—Stephen K. Hayes
As such, these may describe an individual's response to direct confrontation, such as in martial arts associations with physical center, footwork.
- Chi: stability/stubbornness; holding ground and using strength and presence (source: strength)
- Sui: flexibility/emotionalism; defensive angling and footwork to overextend the attacker before counterattacking (source: power)
- Ka: aggression/fear; using high energy attacks defensively (source: energy)
- Fu: wisdom/love; evasive, elusive methods that redirect attacks away from their targets (source: resiliency)
- Ku: creative/communicative; spontaneous and inventive fighting
地Chi (sometimes ji) or tsuchi, meaning "Earth", represents the hard, solid objects of Earth. The most basic example of chi is in a stone. Stones are highly resistant to movement or change, as is anything heavily influenced by chi. In people, the bones, muscles and tissues are represented by chi. Emotionally, chi is predominantly associated with collectiveness, stability, physicality, and gravity. It is a desire to have things remain as they are; a resistance to change. In the mind, it is confidence when under the influence of this chi mode or "mood", we are aware of our own physicality and sureness of action. This is a separate concept from the energy-force, pronounced in Chinese as qì (also written ch'i) and in Japanese as ki, and written alternatively as 気, 氣, or 气.
水Sui or mizu, meaning "Water", represents the fluid, flowing, and the formless things in the world. Outside of the obvious example of rivers and the lake, plants are also categorized under sui, as they adapt to their environment, growing and changing according to the direction of the sun and the changing seasons. Blood and other bodily fluids are represented by sui, as are mental or emotional tendencies towards adaptation and change. Sui can be associated with thought, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism.
火Ka or hi, meaning "Fire", represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Animals, capable of movement and full of forceful energy, are primary examples of ka objects. Bodily, ka represents our metabolism and body heat, and in the mental and emotional realms, it represents drive and passion. Ka can be associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit.
風Fū or kaze, meaning "Wind", represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement. Aside from air, smoke and the like, fū can in some ways be best represented by the human mind. As we grow physically, we learn and expand mentally as well, in terms of our knowledge, our experiences, and our personalities. Fū represents breathing, and the internal processes associated with respiration. Mentally and emotionally, it represents an "open-minded" attitude and carefree feeling. It can be associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness.
See also: Akasha
空Kū or sora, most often translated as "Void", but also meaning "sky" or "heaven", environment, it represents those things beyond and within our everyday comprehension, particularly those things composed of pure energy before they manifest; the emptiness that the energy is made up of. Bodily, kū represents spirit, thought and creative energy. It represents the creation of phenomena. It can also be associated with the potential of power, creativity, spontaneity and inventiveness.
Kū is of particular importance as the highest of the elements. In martial arts, particularly in fictional tales where the fighting discipline is blended with magic or the occult, one often invokes the power of the Void to connect to the quintessential creative energy of the world. A warrior properly attuned to the Void can sense their surroundings and act without using the mind, and without using their "physical senses".
Representations of the godai
The most common representations today of the five elements, outside of martial arts and fictional references, are found in Buddhist architecture.
Many temples in Japan have beautiful goju-no-to, or five storied towers [pagodas]. Five roofs of graceful curves make the towers architectural beautiesof wooden construction built without any nails or bolts. Though they are beautiful, they are not erected merely as architectural ornaments for temples. The five stories stand forgodai, or Five Greats in Buddhism. They are the elements in the Universe from which are produced all things. Thus the towers symbolize the Universe and everything existing in it.
Japanese gorintōes (go-rin-to, the Japanese word go means 'five', rin means 'ring shape', and to means the 'tower') as seen in Zen gardens and Buddhist temples, represented as a stupa. These have five divisions which represent the five elements, although the five segments can be hard to discern. The bottom-most piece, touching the ground, represents chi; the next section represents sui; ka is represented by the section encasing the lantern's light or flame, while fū and kū are represented by the last two sections, top-most and pointing towards the sky. It is composed from bottom to top of a cube, a sphere, a pyramid, a crescent and something resembling a lotus flower, shapes that also have the meaning described above.
The stone lanterns, that is very similar to the gorinto, is a stone tower of modest size put on a center line for the approach mainly to the Buddhist temples and cemeteries, but the functional meaning of toro is different from the gorinto, to illuminate the approach to the temple as like lighthouses, for the strict Buddhist ceremony at night.
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- ^Veere, Henny van der (). A Study into the Thought of Kōgyō Daishi Kakuban: With a translation of his 'Gorin kuji myo himitsushaku'. BRILL. pp.– ISBN.
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『The Five Japanese Elements』
"Unless it's done superbly like in the Japanese movie, Gate of hell, colour is a very distracting element"
Hey guys Lukeario here with my first blog for this amino. I am experienced with amino and have joined here because of my interest in the country. This is about the five elements of Japanese philosophy. Hope you enjoy.
Gondai is a philosophy in Japanese Buddhism derived from Buddhist beliefs and are the five elements that make up the world which include Fire, Water, Wind, Earth and Void. The representations of these elements are known as Gorintou which are shapes that atop each other. It starts with a base of a square, with a circle or sphere on top. Next is a pyramid and on top of that is a crescent. On top is a lotus symbol.
The words of Gon (five) and Dai (great) show how important these elements are and each element represents a tendency in the world including spiritual, physically or mentally all which derives from teachings that came through China from India. Here are the five elements.
【Earth || Chi】
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need but not every man's greed"
Chi is the solid form at the bottom of the everything and is the basis of everything which is represented by the square. It is the element that engages all the 5 senses and is physically represented as stone which is inanimate and sturdy. It is a basic fundamental and is a good, solid base of Gondai. Chi is associated with stubbornness, collectiveness, stability, physicality, and gravity. When Chi is present in the mind, it shows sureness in action and confidence in itself. It is also a resistance to change and it desires to keep things the same. In people, bone, tissue and muscles are seen as Chi and the earth, stone and soil we stand on is Chi is its purest form.
【Water || Sui】
"Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it"
Sui, also known as water, is represented by a perfect sphere, which sits upon the solid base of Chi and is a flowing, formless and surging things in the world. Obvious representations include lakes, rivers and in the human, bodily fluids and blood. Sui adapts to its environments and also can be seen in plants which require both Sui and Chi to live, fusing the two elements. Emotion and mental tendencies to change and adaption are also seen as Sui. Sui can be associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism.
【Fire || Ka】
"The most powerful weapon on Earth, is the human soul on fire"
On top of the Sphere of Sui, sits the pyramid of Ka, which is also known as fire, which points upwards with boundless energy and tenacity that can ultimately destroy. Animals are seen as Ka as they represent movement and full of energy to live. Bodily functions that include Ka are heat energy and metabolism and in emotion terms, it is represented by passion, drive, ambition, motivation, desire and can be associated with security, an outgoing spirit. The Sun of Ka also combines the three elements in the life of plants, with Chi as the soil and Sui as the nutrients and water it requires.
【Wind || Fu】
"Sometimes, in the wind of change, we find our true direction"
Upon the fiery pyramid, is the elegant crescent shape of Fu, which is also known as Wind, which is shown as the freedom, expansion and growth of things. As well as smoke and air which are the physical representations, Fu is also shown by the human mind which is constantly growing along with the body, ever expanding and full of free thoughts. The feeling of open mindedness and carefree attitude are mental and physical human representations. Fu can also be seen in the respiration systems and the breathing of air in the lungs. Fu can't be seen or smelled until combined with Ka to make a blazing fire, Sui to make rain and Chi to create gusts of dust. It can be associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom. It is the breathe of life and is also one representation of the freedom of the spirit.
【Void || Ku】
"We become aware of the void, as we fill it"
The last element, which sits on top of the crescent moon, is Ku, also known as Void and is shown by a lotus emblem shown in many Buddhist icons. Ku represents nothing and everything at the same time and is emptiness. Ku is also seen as heaven and the sky and is something that is beyond our capabilities, which is a pure form of energy. Ku is shown as creativity and creative energy as well as the Spirit and thought. It is also the death that looms over us yet at the same time, the mystery of ourselves and the universe and the creativity of the world and universe. It can also be associated with power, creativity, spontaneity, and inventiveness.
"And thus, the godai, the great five, expresses the very structure not just of physical reality, but of our very personalities – as well as the structure of the Universe as well"
I hope you enjoyed this blogs and stay tuned for more.
Peace out ~ :wave:
Symbol for elements japanese
Elements in Chinese / Japanese
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五行 is the title of the five elements which are: wood, fire, water, earth, and metal.
The first character means "5" and the second character is simply "elements".
According to ancient Chinese science, all matter in the world is made up of these elements. One idea presented with the five elements is that when energy is added, matter is believed to expand. When energy is removed, matter contracts. Oddly, this concept is not far from Einstein's theories, and modern science. Just a few thousand years before Einstein.
More info: Wikipedia - Five Elements (Wu Xing).
See Also: Wood | Fire | Water | Earth | Metal
dì shuǐ huǒ fēng
地水火風 is a Buddhist term that means "earth, water, fire, wind".
地水火風 is often just referred to as "the four elements". There is a more common title (the five elements) which adds wood to the mix. These four elements are used in some sects of Japanese Buddhism (not so much in Chinese).
chi sui ka fuu kuu
地水火風空 is the specifically-Japanese version of the five elements.
地水火風空 is a little different than the ancient or original Chinese version.
The elements are written in this order:
1. Earth / Terra / Ground
4. Wind / Air
5. Sky / Emptiness / Void / Ether
Note: This set of Kanji can also be romanized as "ji sui ka fuu kuu", "jisuikafuukuu", or "jisuikafuku".
These can also be written in the order 地火風水空 (chi ka sui fuu kuu). Let me know when you place your order if you want the Kanji to be in this character order.
五大 is the Japanese title for the five elements.
In Japan, the five elements differ slightly from the original Chinese. Therefore, in Japanese philosophy you have: earth, water, fire, wind and void (space).
The meaning of the first character is 5, but the second character means great or large. Some translate this as the five majors. 大 is only understood to be "elements" when you have 五 in front of it.
In Buddhism, this can be short for 五大明王, or the five great and wise kings.
金木水火土 is a list of the Chinese characters for the five elements in a comfortable order (meaning that they simply "feel right" to a Chinese person who views this arrangement).
The order is metal, wood, water, fire, earth.
Note that sometimes the metal element is translated as gold. And earth refers to soil versus the whole planet earth.
wǔ xíng tài jí quán
go gyou tai kyoku ken
五行太極拳 is a certain school or style of Tai Chi (Taiji).
The characters literally mean "Five Elements Tai Chi Fist".
In Taiwan, it would be Romanized as "Wu Hsing Tai Chi Chuan" - see the standard Mandarin method above in the gray box (used in mainland China and the official Romanization used by the Library of Congress).
The last three characters are sometimes translated as "Grand Ultimate Fist", so the whole thing can be "Five Elements Grand Ultimate Fist" if you wish.
I have not confirmed the use of this title in Korean but if it is used, it's probably only by martial arts enthusiasts. The pronunciation is correct as shown above for Korean.
土 is earth, soil, ground or Terra.
Earth is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth.
See Also: Chinese Zodiac
金 is the symbol for metal (often means gold or money) in Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
In an interesting twist, in Japanese, this Kanji can also mean "Friday". I guess Friday is "the golden day" in Japan.
Gold / Metal is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.
木 is the symbol for wood in Japanese, Korean and Chinese.
This can sometimes mean "tree" depending on context. In fact, the character comes from a pictogram that is supposed to resemble a tree.
Wood is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.
天空 means sky in most context but it can also refer to air, space, the heavens, or ether.
水 is the symbol for water in in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
Water is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.
火 is the symbol for fire, flame, or blaze in Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
Fire is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.
chi / ji / tsushi / tsuchi
地 is the single-character element and title of the planet Earth in Chinese, old Korean Hanja and Japanese Kanji.
Because this is a single-character, the definition is a little ambiguous, and can have many meanings depending on the context in which it is used. These meanings include: earth, ground, land, soil, dirt, place, territory, bottom (of a package, book, etc.), earth (one of the Japanese five elements), the region in question, the local area, skin, texture, fabric, material, weave, base, background, one's true nature, narrative (i.e. descriptive part of a story), real life, actuality, etc.
In Japanese, this Kanji can be pronounced several ways, including chi, ji, tsushi, or tsuchi.
地 is also an element of the Japanese version of the five elements (the original Chinese version uses a different version of earth).
kuu / kara / sora / ron
This single character means empty, void, hollow, vacant, vacuum, blank, nonexistent, vacuity, voidness, emptiness, non-existence, immateriality, unreality, the false or illusory nature of all existence, being unreal.
In Buddhist context, this relates to the doctrine that all phenomena and the ego have no reality but are composed of a certain number of skandhas or elements, which disintegrate. The void, the sky, space. The universal, the absolute, complete abstraction without relativity. The doctrine further explains that all things are compounds, or unstable organisms, possessing no self-essence, i.e. are dependent, or caused, come into existence only to perish. The underlying reality, the principle of eternal relativity, or non-infinity, i.e. śūnya, permeates all phenomena making possible their evolution.
From Sanskrit and/or Pali, this is the translation to Chinese and Japanese of the title śūnya or śūnyatā.
In Japanese, when pronounced as "ron" (sounds like "roan") this can be a given name. It should be noted that this Kanji has about 5 different possible pronunciations in Japanese: kuu, kara, sora, ron, and uro. 空 is also an element in the Japanese version of the five elements.
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese
|Title||Characters||Romaji (Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Five Elements||五行||gogyou / gogyo||wǔ xíng / wu3 xing2 / wu xing / wuxing||wu hsing / wuhsing|
|dì shuǐ huǒ fēng|
di4 shui3 huo3 feng1
di shui huo feng
|ti shui huo feng|
|chi sui ka fuu kuu|
chi sui ka fu ku
|五大||godai||wǔ dà / wu3 da4 / wu da / wuda||wu ta / wuta|
|Five Elements||金木水火土||jīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ|
jin1 mu4 shui3 huo3 tu3
jin mu shui huo tu
|chin mu shui huo t`u|
chin mu shui huo tu
|Five Elements Tai Chi Fist||五行太極拳|
|go gyou tai kyoku ken|
go gyo tai kyoku ken
|wǔ xíng tài jí quán|
wu3 xing2 tai4 ji2 quan2
wu xing tai ji quan
|wu hsing t`ai chi ch`üan|
wu hsing tai chi chüan
|Earth||土||tsuchi||tǔ / tu3 / tu||t`u / tu|
|金||kin||jīn / jin1 / jin||chin|
|Wood||木||ki||mù / mu4 / mu|
|天空||ten kuu / tenkuu / ten ku / tenku||tiān kōng|
|Water||水||mizu / sui||shuǐ / shui3 / shui|
|Fire||火||hi||huǒ / huo3 / huo|
|Earth||地||chi / ji / tsushi / tsuchi||dì / di4 / di||ti|
|空||kuu / kara / sora / ron|
ku / kara / sora / ron
ku / kara / sora / ron
|kōng / kong1 / kong||k`ung / kung|
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.
When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.
Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!
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Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.
Some people may refer to this entry as Elements Kanji, Elements Characters, Elements in Mandarin Chinese, Elements Characters, Elements in Chinese Writing, Elements in Japanese Writing, Elements in Asian Writing, Elements Ideograms, Chinese Elements symbols, Elements Hieroglyphics, Elements Glyphs, Elements in Chinese Letters, Elements Hanzi, Elements in Japanese Kanji, Elements Pictograms, Elements in the Chinese Written-Language, or Elements in the Japanese Written-Language.
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How to Write Five Elements in Japanese Kanji
Which Five Elements?
In Japan, the classical Chinese elements, wu xing, are prominent. These are Wood (Ki), Fire (Hi), Earth (Tsuchi), Metal (Kin), and Water (Mizu). They each have a representative kanji symbol.
In addition, Japanese Buddhism has a set of elements, the godai, which vary from the Chinese elements. They also include Earth, Water, and Fire, but Air and Void (sky or heaven) are used rather than Wood and Metal. Each of these has a representation in kanji script.
One reason people have an interest in the kanji of the elements is to choose a symbol for a tattoo. Having this symbol permanently written on the body shows that they aspire to promote the qualities and emotions it represents. These symbols, however, often have multiple interpretations. Especially in their Chinese roots, they represent opposite emotions and qualities as there is always a desire for balance — yin and yang.
Kanji is one of the three kinds of scripts used to write in Japan. It is not usually used for foreign names, which are usually written in the phonetic katakana script.
Earth (Tsuchi or Chi))
Earth represent things that are solid. The quality is like a stone - resistant to movement or change. It represents the solid portions of the body such as the bones and muscles. For emotional qualities, it can represent confidence and stability, but also may represent stubbornness.
In Chinese philosophy, Earth is associated with honesty and the emotions of anxiety and joy.
Water (Mizu or Sui)
Water represents things that are liquid. It represents flow and change. The blood and body fluids are categorized under water. Traits that can be associated with water include being adaptable and flexible. But it may also represent being emotional and defensive.
In Chinese philosophy, water is associated with resourcefulness, knowledge-seeking, and wit. The emotions under its sway are fear and gentleness.
Fire (Hi or Ka)
Fire represents things that destroy. It is forceful and full of energy. It represents passion, desire, intention, and drive.
In Chinese philosophy, fire likewise is associated with passion and intensity. The two sides of emotion it governs are hatred and love.
In Chinese philosophy, metal represented intuition and rationality. For emotions, it is associated with bravery and grief.
In Chinese philosophy, wood is associated with idealism and curiosity. It can represent anger and altruism.
Wind (Fū or Kaze) 風
In the Japanese five elements, wind represents growth and freedom of movement. In relating it to human qualities, it is associated with the mind and gaining knowledge and experience. It can represent being open-minded, carefree, wise, and compassionate.
Void (Kū or sora) 空
Void can also mean sky or heaven. It is the element representing the spirit and pure energy, things outside of daily life. It is associated with thinking, communicating, creativity, inventiveness, and power. It is regarded as the highest of elements. In martial arts usage, it is somewhat like the Force in Star Wars — connecting a warrior to a collective energy so they can act without thinking.
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