Feel the energy

The subtitle of the book that I’m writing on elemental Japan was originally ‘the energy of a nation’. I chose these extra explanatory words carefully, words that would best portray the essence of the elemental story of Japan. From the energy of the powerful natural forces that have literally shaped the island nation, to expressions of ‘ki’ (the life-force or flow of energy that sustains living beings) – I feel that understanding energy is key to understanding the elements in Japan. In November 2016 I changed the subtitle of the book to ‘Feel the energy’, the title of this post. On reflection it sits better with the intent of my explorations, inviting readers to engage personally with the elements.

The intense energy of earthquakes, like recently experienced at Kumamoto, can be extremely damaging. These elemental events have occurred repeatedly over Japanese history and helped shape the nation, both physically and psychologically.

The intense energy of earthquakes, like recently experienced at Kumamoto, can be extremely damaging. These elemental events have occurred repeatedly over Japanese history and helped shape the nation, both physically and psychologically. The resilience of the Japanese people is well known, embodied in the proverb ‘fall down seven times, get up eight’ (Nana korobi ya ski). In August 2017 I wrote in greater depth about earthquakes and national character in Japan which you can read here.

The intention of this blog is to share a story of discovery. A journey of collecting and collating written material and lived experiences that encompass elemental Japan.  From May 9th, 2016 Kyoto was my base to ‘feel the energy’ for a period of around 10 weeks. Return trips to Japan were made in October 2016 and May/June 2017 to continue my explorations. Understanding energy and its manifestations is a key aspect of the story of the elements in Japan,  one that has many dimensions.  The intention of introducing the topic, briefly and early on (written in May 2016), is to hopefully engender some responses from readers.

The sacred groves around Shinto Shrines are powerful energetically and elementally.

The sacred groves around Shinto Shrines are powerful energetically and elementally. This forested  staircase at Hakone Shrine links a torii in Lake Ashi to the main shrine building on the foot of Mount Hakone.

Dimensions I’ll be (and have been) investigating include the energy associated with elemental phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanoes and typhoons (both during and after); the expression of ki in religious and healing practices and traditional/martial arts, and its connection to the elements; where calendars and astrological predictions fit; powerspots; and the energy and elemental fields associated with geomancy, the auspicious placement of building or other sites. Fusui (the Japanese equivalent of Feng Shui), for example, has been described as the understanding and awareness of the natural flow of energy and the forces of nature, both on a tangible and intangible level. In September 2017 I wrote a detailed post about the fascinating subject of fusui which you can read here.

The location of Kyoto was chosen because of its perfect fit with the requirements of Feng Shui, a system intimately related to energy and the elements. The relationship between the surrounding mountains and water bodies were a key part of the design. Today the mountains are harder to see and energy is being transported around the city in aerial power lines.

The original location of Kyoto was chosen because of its perfect fit with the requirements of Feng Shui (Fusui in Japanese), a geomatic system intimately related to energy (ki) and the elements. The relationship between the surrounding mountains and water bodies were a key part of the design. Today the mountains are harder to see and energy is being transported around the city in aerial power lines. As I’ve been walking around Kyoto I’ve been wondering about the impact of  recent changes in the energy balance.

Fundamentally, everything in the universe is energy, so you would expect it to be an important part of the elemental story of Japan. A story waiting to be told.

2 thoughts on “Feel the energy

  1. Being ‘in place’ for an extended period is such a great way of feeling the energy and as you have outlined here, the energetic nature of Japan is expressed in many ways and on many levels. Being in Japan so soon after the recent earthquake will provide you with an even stronger sense of the way the Japanese respond to such natural disasters. I love the proverb, ‘fall down seven times, get up eight’ – it says a lot about their collective resilience.

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    • It does make a difference being ‘in place’ as you so eloquently put it. Each day brings new experiences and learnings. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to spend this time in Japan.

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