Feng Shui


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Japanese Feng Shui

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Feng Shui

  1. 1. Fumio Suda Architect House Reading www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  2. 2. Fumio Suda Architect HOUSE READING Among the peoples of the East, particularly those of China and Japan, there exists an ancient architectural tradition. By employing an obscure text, relating to the siting and construction of residential buildings, a "House Reader" makes determinations about the health and prosperity of the occupants. Best described as prescriptive aphorisms, these beliefs, of which there are several hundred, were translated from the Japanese in 1983 at the University of Illinois at Chicago and constitute the touchstone of our work. House Reading is the analysis of the human habitat using the criteria of elemental relation and correspondence. It seeks to engender within the envelope of the house a harmonious proportion of subtle preternatural energies. Among the tools of analysis is a decided appreciation of the inexorable influence of time, the fourth dimension (x, y, z, t) of building. Relations are expressed symbolically and carry the authority of generations of unselfconscious holistic dwelling. The Japanese call it "Kaso" , a character having two components. "Ka" is "house" with the strong presumption surrounding of site. A somewhat elusive term, "so" is translated with "phase", like in time of year or season, though it seems to refer to the unseen dynamics generating natural phenomena and not to www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  3. 3. Fumio Suda Architect the phenomena itself Our concern is a theoretic examination of the House Reading tradition. Throwing aside a predisposition toward the discursive methods of western science, we ask: Do these beliefs represent a cogent and rational architectural program? What is their origin, and what is the relevance of the tradition of our age? Perhaps implicit in these prescriptions is the irreducible wisdom of the relations obtaining between people and the shelters. We are happy to acknowledge the invaluable assistance and inspiration afforded us by Messrs Kenneth Isaac's, Michael Lazar, John Syvensen, Neil Tryba. www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  4. 4. Fumio Suda Architect 25 TABOOS RELATING TO SITE 1. High ground to the north and low ground to the south bring a generally fortunate result. 2.High ground to the west and low ground to the east engender wealth. 3. High ground to the west and low ground to the southeast assure victory. 4.Where there is a pond to the southeast and a hill to the northwest, happiness flows, luck predominates, and wealth is augmented. 5. A hill to the north and a distant mountain in the south; a stream to the east flowing diagonally to the southwest; and a dirt road oriented toward the mountain: a happy site. Those who live there have honor and fame. 6. Where there are hills to the northeast and northwest, a forest in the southwest, and bamboo to the southeast, there is harmony. The two kinds of universal energy have consonance. 7.A house situated on the ridge of a hill or at the mouth of a valley brings disease and misfortune. 8.If the road ends where the house begins, there will be accidents. 9.A wide street to the west brings good fortune. 10.A tall trees at the gate invites calamity. 11.A house rising above the neighboring dwellings hardly produces wealth. 12.An old grave to the northeast surrounded by a small forest brings death to children. If there is a hill to the southwest, women have diseases of the blood, abort their children and have fits of vomiting. If there is a pool to the west, lascivious desires afflicts the family. 13.Running water to the northeast causes diarrhea, gonorrhea, and palsy. 14.A house surrounded on its four sides by four streets has water problems and is otherwise evil. There will be drowning or hangings. The parents will vanish, leaving stammering idiots for children. www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  5. 5. Fumio Suda Architect 15.A grave to the north and a stream running from east to south describe an evil site. Among other things, the children have eye disease. 16.Where plum trees surround the house, there is decadence, dissipation, and erotic riots. The family will dissolve, leaving the women and the children without means. 17.A pond to the northwest and a hill at the eastern border describe an evil site. Those living there are unable to dry their tears because of continuous calamity. 18.A grave to the east is extremely dangerous to the oldest son. A grave to the west is dangerous to women and brings disease to their descendants. 19.Forests to the east and west and graves to the north and south describe an evil site. Those who live there experience reverses in business and suffer from infectious disease and abscesses. 20.Where there is a hill, projecting onto the site from the east, and a stream in the southeast, disaster comes upon the children: the stream will swallow them up, or they will be lost in the hill. 21.A pond to the north and a street running to the southeast, bring burglaries, lawsuits, and vengeful enemies. Crowds are the source of much anxiety. 22. A triangular site, even if it is flat, causes quarrels and has the danger of fire. 23. It is exceedingly evil to redirect a stream so that it runs through the site. 24. A stone ground cover or paving conducts to the surface the inimical qualities of the earth. 25. Where the earth is sealed with stones, it becomes barren. www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  6. 6. Fumio Suda Architect 28 TABOOS RELATING TO CONSTRUCTION, CONFIGURATION, AND ORIENTATION 1. A stair in the center of the house brings misery. 2. A kitchen to the east is most propitious. 3.A kitchen to the southeast is ruinous since a kitchen is where food is washed and from where vapors emit. 4. Houses oriented to the south are fortunate, if the living rooms is to the east facing the garden. 5. If the master's bedroom and kitchen are adjacent, evil will be visited upon the children. 6. There is special providence in having the owner's study at the center of the house. 7. An entry on axis with the gateway is evil. 8.A house, either large or small and having only one entry cannot be lived in for long. The occupants will move, or the husband or wife will die young. 9. A narrow house with its entry on the long side engenders asthma. 10.There is a relation between the rooms of a house and the prospects of its occupants. A house with one room is fortunate; two rooms are fair; three or four bring sorrow, five, six, or seven are again fortunate-, eight rooms are evil; and a house with nine rooms is fortunate. 11, Generally speaking, houses oriented to the south are most fortunate. 12. A house, having its entrance on the shorter side, brings abundant and lasting happiness. 13.A bathroom situated at the southwest comer of the house is ominous and will adversely affect the occupants. 14. A bathroom to the north brings unexpected troubles. www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  7. 7. Fumio Suda Architect 15. A bathroom on axis with the entry causes abscesses and swelling in the occupants. 16. Window facing north cause irregular menstruation in women. 17.A house oriented to the west has openings to the south or openings to both the north and south, thereby admitting sunlight and allowing through ventilation. It does not have openings only to the north. 18. A house where there is construction, particularly in the kitchen, is dangerous to a pregnant woman. 19.Floors are raised above the ground. A floor resting upon the ground transmits to the occupants the baneful qualities of the soil and causes trouble and disease. 20. A structural column is hewn from one piece of wood- It is not two connected posts, nor does it have a core of a different material. 21. Without eaves to the south, the occupants quarrel and perhaps even become estranged. But if the eaves are too long, a dissolute and sybaritic life results. 22.A very large skylight, because of a superfluity of the good, causes problems. 23.A fireplace at the center of the house is evil. 24.If a central column is visible from the outside, there will be dreadful occurrences. 25. Where there is renovation, it is imperative that no post is split or otherwise cut and then employed in the new construction. If a post is cut, the entire member must be discarded. Where an altered post is employed, tragedy and death are certainly the result. 26.Luxury is evil. Virtue consists in purity and arrangement. 27. There are two kinds of wood. One kind is positive (pine, cypress, cedar) and the other is negative (chestnut). A house is constructed from positive wood. 28.Garden walls which are very high and overshadow the house within bring poverty upon the occupants. www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  8. 8. Fumio Suda Architect PRINCIPLES Looking in nature, we find that many creatures know tile right time to do the right thing. Birds know when to make their nests and when to begin their long migratory journeys. Trees know when to germinate, when to cast flowers, and when to let fall their leaves. Long ago in the nearly immemorial annals of our history, human intercourse paralleled the seasonal rhythms of nature. A man built his house in accordance with the minute testimony of Heaven and thereby achieved correspondence with the universal energies. Taboos, an arcane code fully intelligible only to the initiated, deposit an essential and inescapable connection from cosmos to peoples between which typically is the house acting as intermediary, a king of filter screening reverberating the invisible animation of earth and stars. These taboos appear superstitious. However, history indicates that they are derived from three ancient Chinese philosophical traditions: the Five Momentum Theory, tile Nine Star Theory, and the I Ching. The Chinese developed the Five Momentum Theory by carefully observing the five planets visible to eye; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. As there are five planets, there are five and only five universal elements; water, metal, fire, wood, and soil. Among these elements, there are the following generative relations: wood generates fire wood destroys soil fire generates soil fire destroys metal soil generates metal soil destroys water metal generates water metal destroys wood water generates wood water destroys fire Further, tile theory associates these five elements with the cardinal points of the compass, where: north corresponds to water northeast corresponds to soil www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  9. 9. Fumio Suda Architect east corresponds to wood southeast corresponds to wood south corresponds to fire southwest corresponds to soil west corresponds to metal northwest corresponds to metal and the center corresponds to soil. The functional components of the house (bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, etc.) are arranged so that, in plan, there is harmony with the cardinal distribution of the five universal elements. www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  10. 10. Fumio Suda Architect DIAGRAM ----- fig. I Five Momentum Theory ---- www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  11. 11. Fumio Suda Architect 3 Prerequisite to an application of theory is the interpretation Of these functional components in elemental terms. The kitchen is a place of fire. It is, therefore, equated with fire and is oriented so that fire does not conflict with another of the universal elements. The kitchen, for instance, is not related to the west. From the theory, we know that the west corresponds to metal and fire destroys metal. consequently, a kitchen to the west occasions conflict between metal and fire. among the prohibitions of the taboos are several which warn against having a kitchen to the west. In this particular instance, there is apparent empirical reason being the taboo: a western kitchen catches the afternoon sun, thus increasing the danger of food spoilage. What about the bathroom? The elemental equation of that function is of curse, water. Water, by the theory, destroys fire and the cardinal association of fire is the south. Therefore, to avoid conflict between water and fire, do not put the WC to the south. Again, there are taboos warning against this. The idea here is to have harmony among the elements. Harmony engenders health; conflict, particularly of universal elements, brings disfunction. Another principle of the taboos is the Nine Star Theory. The nine stars pertain not to the nine planets but to a nine square where the squares are identified by number and color. Since there are nine numbers, there are possible nine completely distinct nine squares, every square having a unique assignment. Nine squares are distinguished by the value of the central square, where the range of values in one to nine. The nine square with five in the central position is paradigmatic because its numbers are so arranged that the summation of a row, or a ----- always equals fifteen. www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  12. 12. Fumio Suda Architect --- Fig. 3 1 Ching Trigrams and Five Momentum Theory--- www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  13. 13. Fumio Suda Architect Equating it with a compass, the paradigmatic nine square becomes a special entity allowing its relation to the five Momentum Theory. These are the resultant associations: Primary Number Orientation Element (Nine Star) (Interface) (Five Momentum) One North Water Eight Northeast Soil Three East Wood Four Southeast Wood Nine South Fire Two Southwest Soil Seven West Metal Six Northwest Metal Five Center Soil The I Ching, preeminent among the seminal influences, completes the picture. It introduces yet another array of associative relations while intimating a methodology of analysis. The I Ching or Book of Changes deals with change, not change, chance, and simplicity. Its vehicles are the eight primary trigrams which generate 64 hexagrams. The trigrams, like the paradigmatic nine square, are ranged about the compass. The orientation of trigrams and relevant associations are: (see below) www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  14. 14. Fumio Suda Architect The function of time in conditioning circumstance is the core of the I Ching. Attributed to every moment is a particular quality. The quality of the moment qualifies the events of that moment. It is the king of simultaneous causality in which the antecedent of the totality of events of a given momentous the moment itself. In that moment there is one future; in the next moment, there is another. Far from being exclusively quantitative, time becomes the fountainhead of the qualitative universe. At birth by virtue of the singularity of the moment, every individual is given a nine square which immediately is set in unique rotation through time. The aspect of an individual is inextricably entwined with the particular rotation of his nine square. In House Reading, there are fixed relations and variable circumstance. The relations of the Five Momentum Theory and the I Ching are constant. The conditions of site, structure, and occupants are constantly changing. A House Reader's virtuosity consists in superimposing one system upon another, of adjustment and emphasis, until the revelatory content of a complex web of associations is discerned. It is like piecing together a four dimensional puzzle, its elements existing in space, but being profoundly conditioned by time. The taboos are generalizations derived from the repeatedly confirmed findings of House Readers. History Lao Tzu, a revered Chinese sage reputed to have lived in the sixth century BC, said "the reality of the vessel is the void within it." The reality of traditional Japanese architecture is not only the material or technique it employs but is fully found in its assertion of a subliminal dimension to building. One is obliged to imagine design reaching beyond the customary three dimensions. Design encompassing the plenum of processes assures health and prosperity. Taboos express the mechanics of achieving a completely integrated built environment. When we speak of the harmony of Japanese architecture, its sympathetic relation with nature, we owe it in general to the eastern preoccupation with the immaterial and in particular to these rules. Like much of the early culture of Japan, the taboos were carried over from China, probably by an itinerant Buddhist monk in the last decades of the sixth century. Under the regency of Shotokutaishi (593 to his death in 62 1), the Japanese established a www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  15. 15. Fumio Suda Architect government department the purview of which included weather forecasting, disaster control, calendar revision, astronomy and astrology, and supervision of architectural projects. Having the official title "on Yd, this department had exclusive custody of the taboos and was responsible for their application in government construction. It is curious to observe the close association of architecture with the disciplines of speculative physics and even mysticism. The On Yo was disbanded circa 950. *Orientation Name Attribute Family Relation Corporal Assignment Northwest The Creative strong father head ,neck, face, lungs, bones Southwest The Receptive devoted mother stomach, spleen, flesh, ribs East The Arousing movement first son liver feet, hands, hair, throat North The Abysmal dangerous second son blood, kidneys, spine, joints,genitals Northeast The Keeping resting third son back, waist, nose, fingers, legs Southeast The Gentle penetrating first daughter thighs, nervous system, intestine South The Clinging light giving second daughter eyes, heart, breasts West The Joyous joyful third daughter tongue, teeth, chest, saliva * Interface with Five Momentum and Nine Star Theories www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  16. 16. Fumio Suda Architect --- Fig. 4 Superimposition of Principles Creating a Field ------ www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  17. 17. Fumio Suda Architect In 794, the imperial capital was moved to Kyoto, where it remained until the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The official chronicles reveal that the On Yo consulted the taboos in siting the new city and that the taboos were then employed in designing imperial residences. According to the taboos, it is best to site a city where there is a hill to the north, a flat plane to the south, water in the east, and a heavily traveled road to the west. Kyoto is so sited, and some explain the lone and happy history of the city by observing the correspondence between the city plan and the taboos. Peking, another city with a particularly stable history, was designed according to Feng Shui ( the Chinese equivalent of House Reading) and was an inspiration in the planning of Kyoto. The taboos, time and again, warn against the northeast and with somewhat less urgency against the southwest. Thus, the northeast to southwest axis is dangerous. The northeast is called "The Gate of the Devil" and the southwest is called "The Backdoor of the Devil." The northeast is associated with volition which across the spectrum of eastern thought has strong negative connotations. Among the curious episodes of Kyoto's early history is the riot of the monks. The city fathers, to combat the pernicious attributes of the northeast, decided to locate the city's temple precinct in that quadrant. Nevertheless, there was trouble, ostensibly political, and a riot ensued. The monks ran amuck, putting entire districts to the torch, plundering, harassing men and women alike. The incident is often used by proponents of taboos to verify the wickedness of the northeast. House Readers in fact council against placement of significant spaces, projections, or openings either to the northeast or southwest. The imperial house, realizing their significance, held a monopoly over the taboos until the early seventeenth century when a usurping Shogunate insisted on their dissemination. Within decades, the first books about House Readings were published. House Reading became increasingly popular particularly among the rising merchants. carpenters having experience of imperial architecture were able to enlarge the scope of the tradition by applying it to emerging styles of residential construction. Though the emperor's advisors were deprived of authority access to the taboos was restricted. It happened that hereditary families of carpenters became the new guardians from whose ranks are descended the House Readers of today. The underlying impetus of House Readings growing popularity was the cessation of strife among the Samurai. The people, rich and poor alike, were in a position to devote their www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  18. 18. Fumio Suda Architect energies to domestic matters. The highest quality, the imperial standard, was demanded of residential construction. Since imperial architecture utilized the taboos, so too would others. Taboos have little to do with style and were employed, across the breadth of an extensively stratified society, by farmers, artisans, the Samurai, the emperor and merchants. Feudal law enforced distinctions amount these groups, even obliging each to maintain a separate architectural style. The taboos enjoyed their greatest popularity between 1700 and 1850. During the 1850's. Japan discovered the West. From that time, the House Reading tradition, the cause of which was championed by Japan's highly skilled carpenters, waged a losing battle against the western notion of building, personified, of course, by the architect. House Reading is not a rigid tradition. Like other cultural phenomena, it is subject to change. The taboos, upon their introduction to Japan, were adapted to fit an island environment. In seeking to establish resonance with Japanese experience, House Readers were always guided by the inviolate principles. The Japanese interpretation preserves the tradition's essential meaning. By similarly referencing, those principles, the taboos can presumably be modified to accord with environmental circumstance anywhere. Since the opening of Japan to the West, there has been general neglect of Japanese custom, particularly of those traditions which Westerners found arcane or touched with superstition. The government further encouraged the flight from tradition believing that modernization would bring political parity with the European powers. House Readers receded from the building scene and were regarded with something approaching the embarrassment the parvenu feels toward his country uncle. but recently, with the failed promises of modernism becoming increasingly apparent, certain Japanese have been searching through the annals of forgotten custom for alternatives. Perhaps the taboos will provide a new direction to architects, a direction having sincerity and legitimacy and one of potential universal applicability. www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  19. 19. Fumio Suda Architect Speculation Modern physics speaks of wave phenomena of a pulsating and vibrating universe. Often the electromagnetic oscillation of waves found in the planetary field occurs at physiological frequency. The ancient Chinese speak of "Chi", an invisible current swirling and eddying about the earth. Chi is energy and influences everything. Where its circulation is untrammeled and it flows vigorously, there is health and well-being. The House Reader's analysis of space involves a layering process. Diverse elements are built up and associated in a integral unit. In effect, a field is created. Within the field and conditioned by it is the distinct physiology of the occupant. Between the physical properties of the field and the physiology of the enveloped being, there is a dynamic of continuous flux. Time increasingly manifests new combinations of potentialities. The universes may be the eight hormone glands, catalysts of physiological change. They even have a seasonal aspects: Some bring the florescence of youth and others the winter of age. Acting in concert, the hormones constitute a "Biological Clock", regulating an organism's physiological processes. Using the conceptual framework of the new physics, particularly its appreciation of the covariation between space and time, it may be possible to expand the notion of the Biological Clock until it encompasses the plenum of processes and established the house as an organic extension of the individual. House Reading, by embracing the totality of experience, encourages transcendence of our narrowly construed causality. It teaches us to view the build environment with the wonder of a child. We may even discover something of its essence. COLIN CARPENTEP, FUMIO SUDA Illustrations by Furnio Suda 1522 Walnut Street Berkeley, CA 94709-1513 www.fumiosudaarchitect.com
  20. 20. Fumio Suda Architect BIBLIOGRAPHY Matsuura, Kinkaku. Kaso Ichiran Kyoto: Kyotoshorin 1984. Matsuura, Kinkaku Kaso Hidenshu Tokyo: Bunkashoin 1893. Mitsufuji, Toshio Kaso Tokuhon Tokyo: Shokousha 198 1. Okamoto, Kozo Kaso no Sekkei Tokyo: Seibunsha 1979. Seike, Kiyoshi Kaso no Kagaku Tokyo: Kobunsha 1969. Yarnagata, Saburo, Kaso Tokyo: Gakugei Shuppan 1971. www.fumiosudaarchitect.com