Four Directions


The Four Directions

***** Location: Worldwide
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Earth


In Japanese "Tozai Nanboku 東西南北".

CLICK for more photos

East, higashi, too 東
West, nishi, kan, zai 西
South, minami, nan 南
North, kita, hoku (boku) 北

shihoo, yomo 四方 four directions

yomoyama banashi 四方山話 to talk about this and that


FOUR occurs very frequently, both in ancient and traditional art in China and Japan, to represent the four directions (north, south, east, west), and also the fifth direction, the center (which in China refers to China itself).

We also have these four from China and Japan

. Deities of the Four Seasons

. chizu 地図 maps of Edo .
Most old maps show the four directions (the compass rose).
But there are some where the North is missing.

compass コンパス, jishaku, jiseki 磁石, rashinban 羅針盤


White Tiger with Mandala 白虎曼荼羅

The Four Animals, Shijuu (四獣,四聖獣)
Four Gods, Shijin (四神)

Tortoise (genbu, Black Warrior, Black Turtle-Snake) = North, Winter, Black, Water, Mountain 玄武
White Tiger (Kirin) = West, Fall, White, Metal, Road 白虎
Red Bird (Phoenix, Vermilion Bird) = South, Summer, Red, Fire, Sea 朱雀
Blue Dragon (Azure Dragon) = East, Spring, Blue/Green, Wood, River 青龍

These four are not related to 12 Zodiac animals

There is a saying for a good layout of a town,
for example Heian-Kyo 平安京:
shijin soo-oo (shijin sōō) しじんそうおう【四神相応】
"the four guardian gods are in balance”

Read the details by Mark Schumacher:
Four Guardians of the Compass

. Seiryoo, seiryuu 青龍; 青竜 azure dragon .
"blue dragon", "green dragon"
Qinglong in Chinese

. Genbu - Tortoise and Snake  亀と蛇 .
and tsurukame 鶴亀 crane and turtle

. Hokuto 北斗 the Big Dipper amulets .
妙見菩薩 Myoken Bosatsu


The four protectors of Edo

Mount Fujisan as Genbu in the North
Hiragawa as Green Dragon in the East
Edo Inlay as Red Phoenix in the South
Tokaido Road as White Tiger in the West

The four protectors of Kyoto

Mount Funaoka in the North
Kamogawa River in the East
Lake Ogura-Ike in the South
Sanyoodo Road in the West

CLICK for enlargement
source : http://www.kawanabeyakuhin.jp/sisin.htm

. - - - Welcome to Edo 江戸 ! .

Worldwide use

. Feng Shui 風水 Chinese Geomancy
Feng Shui and the number 24
Feng Shui practitioners regard 24 as complete number for heaven and earth.
Ring 5: The Ring of the Earth. 24 seasons of the agriculture calendar.
The seasons were divided up into two stages 12x2=24 characters or every 1/2 month is a seasonal division.

. The Asian Lunar Calendar  
24 Sekki ... the 24 solar sections 二十四節気
72 seasons, seasonal points 七十二候 shichijuuni koo

. Goshiki 五色だるま The Five Colors  

the five elements 「五行」(ごぎょう)gogyoo

. Yin and Yang 陰陽  

Things found on the way

WINDS BLOWING from various directions
Kigo with WIND


The "Eastern Mountains" of Kyoto

Higashiyama Culture and Haiku


The Nine Heavens 九天 kyuuten, kuten
nine Directions, nine skies

1.kinten 中央 鈞天(Central Heaven)

2.sooten 東方蒼天(The Azure Sky of the East)
3.kooten 西方昊天(The Vast Skies of the West)
4.enten 南方炎天 (The Blazing Skies of the South)
5.genten 北方玄天 (The Mysterious Skies of the South)

6.henten 東北方変天 (The Odd Skies of the North-East)
7.yuuten 西北方幽天 (The Secluded Skies of the North-West)
8.suten 西南方朱天 (The Scarlet Skies of the South-West)
9.yooten 東南方陽天 (The Sunny Skies of the South-East)

There is also a Buddhist understanding of this term.
九重天図 - 九重天 kyuuchuu no ten 九重の天 - 九個の天球

As the highest place in heaven it was also used to describe the imperial court in China.


The 12 Heavenly Generals 十二神将

Each protects a direction, one month and a double-hour.
Time and Space are one in their presence.

CLICK for more reference
写真掲載  仏像のかたちと技法

These four heavenly kings are the guardians of the world who reside on the slopes of Mt. Sumeru in the heaven named after them from whence they are each responsible for one of the four cardinal directions. Each leads an army of supernatural creatures who help them keep the fighting demons (asuras) at bay.

Bishamonten 毘沙門天
Vaishravana ~ Heavenly King of the North

Jikokuten 持国天
Dhritarashtra ~ Heavenly King of the East

Zochoten (Zoochooten)増長天
Virudhaka ~ Heavenly King of the South

Komokuten (Koomokuten) 広目天
Virupaksha ~ Heavenly King of the West

The 12 Heavenly Generals and Haiku

. Temple Shitenno-Ji in Osaka - 四天王寺 .


yugyoojin 遊行神 deities who walk freely in all directions:

Daishogun (see below)
Konjin 金神 deity of metal
planet Venus deity
pole star deity


Kimon, the "Demon Gate 鬼門" in the North-East

Japanese Deities facing NORTH

with Haiku by Kobayashi Issa


- - - - - Yosa Buson - - - - -

. ume ochikochi minami subeku kita subeku .

asakawa no nishi shi higashi su wakaba kana
gekkoo nishi ni watareba kaei higashi ni ayumu kana
nanohana ya tsuki wa higashi ni hi wa nishi ni
nishi fukeba higashi ni tamaru ochiba kana

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


april in my valley ...
snowing in the east
sunshine in the west

Gabi Greve, April 2006


東 西 南北から 吹雪かな
higashi nishi minami kita yori fubuki kana

from east, west
south, north...
the blizzard

Snow Haiku /Kobayashi Issa
Tr. David Lanoue

© Haiga from Nakamura Sakuo


shigururu ya eki ni nishi-guchi higashi-guchi

sleet in winter -
at this station a West Exit
an East Exit

Azumi Atsushi 安住敦 (1907 - 1988)

Many large stations have more than one exit,
usually named after the four directions.


Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉

kaze no ka mo minami ni chikashi Mogamigawa

the fragrance of the wind
is close to a Southern breeze -
River Mogamigawa

Tr. Gabi Greve

Matsuo Basho, 1689

Tr. and Reference for this haiku

Here is a Chinese poem which Basho is alluding to most probably:

"A fragrant wind wafts in from the South"
Bo Yuyi, Chinese Poet

scent in the wind
also suggests the south--
the Mogami River

Written on July 17, when Basho visited Shibuya Kurobei, a prosperous merchant in Shinjo.

Tr. Makoto Ueda
"Basho and his Interpreters" - Stanford University Press, 1992


An Account of Pure Washed Hall

shihoo yori hana fuki irete nio no nami

another version

四方より  花吹き入れて  におの海
shihoo yori hana fuki irete nio no umi

from the four directions,
blossoms are blowing in:
waves of the grebe

Tr. Barnhill

From all directions
Come cherry petals
Blowing into the lake of Nio.

Tr. Blyth

From all four quarters
cherry petals blowing in
to Biwa's waters!

Tr. Henderson

The explanations given for the name of the lake:

"Nioo is a name given to Biwa or Oomi, the lake of the 'Eight Views'.
Another version ends with 'waves' instead of 'lake'."

" 'Grebe Lake' is another name for Lake Biwa. ... A variant has the last line as 'sea of grebes' ('nio no umi')."

Compiled by Larry Bole
Translating Haiku Forum

from all directions
cherry petals blown in
the Sea of the Grebe

(Tr. Gabi Greve)


CLICK for more photos Eight Views of Lake Biwa,
Omi Hakkei
琵琶湖の八景, 近江八景

shichi kei wa kiri-ni kakurete Mii-no-kane

Eight views?--Ah, well,
mist hid seven when I heard
Mii-dera's bell.

Tr. Henderson

Henderson comments:
...[it is] a quite possibly apocryphal story that Basho was once asked, jokingly, to compose a haiku on all eight views. The point of the joke was that there did exist a well-known 'tanka' (of thirty-one syllables) in which, by a series of word plays, all eight views actually are mentioned by name. This was manifestly impossible to do in seventeen syllables, but the story goes that Basho got out of the trap by answering:
[see haiku above]

The "Bell of Mii Temple," considered to have a surpassingly lovely sound, is of course one of the so-called "Views." See LINK below.

Compiled by Larry Bole
Translating Haiku Forum

Woodblock Print: The Bell of Mii Temple
© www.zen-i.net:  Omi Hakkei, Sightseeing in Shiga
oomi hakkei


Carp streamers
Over Honolulu
Where East meets West

© Takashi, Carp Streamer Haiku


The Ballad of East and West
by Rudyard Kipling :

Oh, East is East, and West is West,
and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently
at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West,
Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

. Joseph Rudyard Kipling and Haiku   


. hooijin 方位神 deities of the directions .
The good deities 吉神
The bad / wild deities 凶神 / 神殺
Konjin, Konjin Sama  金神, 金神様 deity of metal


hooyoke 八方除守護お守り
happoo yoke shugo, happoo fusagari 八方塞がり
amulets for protection in all eight directions

The movements of the stars in the sky start from the center, moving north, north-east . . .

Some important shrines and their amulets:

Daishogun Hachi Jinja 大将軍八神社

Daishogun is the deity of the Pole Star (see the back of the amulet).
He governs all directions and precides over the directional taboos (katatagae 方違え taboos leading to a change of direction in order to avoid a taboo direction, like the kimon direction).
kata imi 方忌み directional taboos during the year

Daishoogun no kami 大将軍神像 statue of Daishogun
Taishoogun たいしょうぐん
Hasshoojin 八将神(はっしょうじん)Deity of the eight directions
His name is also 素戔鳴尊 スサノオ Susano-O.
The shrine is located in the North-West, at the Tenmon gate 天門 of the Imperial Palace Gosho 御所 .
. The Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所, Kyōto Gosho) .

source : Lucia Dolce
The worship of celestial bodies in Japan: politics, rituals and icons
The Great General of Directions

There is another shrine
Daishoogun Jinja 大将軍神社 Daishogun Shrine
長光町 Nagamitsu, Higashiyama ward
Daishogun (which means “Great Generalissimo”)
source : daishogun-shrine-kyoto

This shrine is also the place where Yorimasa Minamoto killd a monster Nue.
. The Nue Monster .

More amulets from the shrine Daishogun:

方位木守り wooden amulets and more
source : www.daishogun.or.jp

happoo fusagari 八方塞がり
to ward off evil influence from all eight directions
warifuda 割りふだで難を割る!
amulet in two parts, to break off the evil
amulet from
. Arima Tosen Shrine 有馬 湯泉神社 Toosen Jinja .


Hirota Jinja 廣田神社
Aomori 青森市長島2丁目13-5

source : hirotajinja.or.jp

This shrine is famous for its amulets to prevent diseases and ward off evil influence 病厄除け.
During the great famine of Tenmei (1784) many people died. When the Shogun in Edo heared about it, he had special rituals and amulets made for exorcism and sent to Aomori, also two bows and arrows. They were offered at the shrine in Sotogahama 外ヶ浜の産土神 to the local deity. And shortly after that, disease stopped to spread and the famine came to an end.
. . . CLICK here for Photos of the shrine !

byoo yakuyoke 病厄除け
amulet to prevent diseases and ward off evil influence 

. Health Amulets 健康御守 kenkoo omamori .

migawari hitogata 身代わり人形 human paper doll substitute

People buy this amulet, breathe three times on the paper figure with the wish of what they want to get rid of and then place it in the wooden box. The box is given as offering to the shrine. The arrows in the box will take care of the evil that hovers around this person and protect him.

. Migawari ... the deities substitute for us .

Hirota Shrine offers another special solution for difficulties

shoogokumairi, shoogoku mairi 正五九参り shrine visit three times a year
To make an offering and pray for a good outcome during a problem.
The best time is
January 正, May 五 and September 九 - the first, fifth and ninth month.

It is also possible to visit in this combination

Shogoku mairi is sometimes even done over a period of three or more years.


. Joonanguu 城南宮 Jonan-Gu, Jonangu Shrine .
Fushimi, Kyoto

. Shiogama jinja 鹽竈神社 .
Shiogama town, Miyagi


Yasu Jinja 安神社
Hiroshima 広島県広島市安佐南区祇園2丁目21-3

source : yasujinja.com

This shrine is locally known as
O-Gion San おぎおんさん
In memory of the Gion quarters of Kyoto. It was founded in 869 to protect the land and the deities on their way to Izumo.
. . . CLICK here for Photos of the shrine !


Happoo Josai 八方除災

The yellow
Go Oo Dosei 五黄土星(ごおうどせい)"Five Yellow Saturn"
one of the special nine stars 九星.

. Inu Jinja 伊奴神社 "Dog Shrine" . Nagoya

- quote -
9 Star Ki (Japanese: 九星気学 , Chinese: 九宫命理 or 九星命理) is a popular system of astrology, often used alongside Feng shui.It is an adjustment or consolidation,[6] made in 1924 by Shinjiro Sonoda, to traditional Chinese divination and geomancy methods, such as Flying Star Feng Shui, the Ming Gua (Chinese: 命卦) number from the Eight Mansions Compass School of Feng Shui, and combining the Lo Shu Square with the "Later Heaven" Bagua.
There are thought to be nine-year and nine-month cycles of Ki/Qi on Earth, which are related to solar and seasonal cycles, and which have common effects across the planet on people's mental and physical development and experiences throughout their lives. The 9 Star Ki 'stars' are numbers that represent those cycles. The numbers can be calculated for anyone on/from Earth using only a birthdate.
- source : wikipedia -

. Rokusan 六三 Deity of Illness .
related to the Nine Special Stars (九星 kyuusei) .

. Amulets and Talismans from Japan . 


Related words

***** WKD Grebe, nio (Podiceps family of Birds)

***** Mii Temple 三井寺(園城寺)

. Deities of the Four Seasons  

CLICK for more deliciuos cakes !
Feng Shui Daruma cake in lucky colors


Shitennoo (Lokapaala)
Gruppe der vier Himmelskönige bzw. vier Welthüter.
Leben am Fuße des Weltenberges, im Zentrum des Universums, bewachen die vier Himmelsrich~tungen und die vier Provinzen. Sie stehen an den vier Seiten eines Weltenberg-Sockels.
Seit der Asuka-Zeit verehrt, besonders aber in der Nara-Zeit als Wächter und Schützer eines Landes, in dem der Buddhismus hoch geachtet wird. Z.B. Tempel Shitennooji in Osaka.
Wenn nur Jikokuten und Tamonten aufgestellt sind, werden sie "Zwei Ten" (Ni-Ten 二天) genannt; z.B. als Wächterfiguren am Tempeltor (Nitenmon).
Vor der Nara-Zeit wurden die 12 Schutzgottheiten der Himmelsrichtungen verehrt.

Im allgemeinen mit indischer oder chinesischer Rüstung dargestellt. Mit furchterregendem Gesichtsausdruck. Da sie immer als vier Statuen gemeinsam geschaffen wurde, sind meist zwei mehr bewegt-dynamisch und zwei mehr unbewegt-still.
Gegenstände in der Hand sind nicht festgelegt, einige kommen aber häufig vor.

Jikokuten (Dhrtarastra)
Im Osten, Tooshoshin-Provinz. Großes Schwert in der rechten Hand, linke nach unten oder nach oben, das wunscherfüllende Juwel haltend.

Zoochooten, Zoojooten (Virudhaka)
Im Süden, Nansenbu-Provinz. Mit langem Speer oder großem Schwert in der rechten Hand, linke Hand an der Hüfte.

Koomokuten (Viruupaaksha)
Im Westen, Goka-Provinz. Mit Schriftrolle und Pinsel oder mit Seil und Hellebarde.

Tamonten (Vaisravana) = Bishamonten
Im Norden, Hokkuru-Provinz. In der linken Hand den Stab der Lehre, Schwert oder Hellebarde; in der rechten hoch erhoben eine Pagode des Gesetzes.


12 Schuttzgottheiten (Juuni Ten; Happoo Ten 八方天)

Besondere Schutzgottheiten des esoterischen Buddhismus.
Meist auf 12 einzelnen Bildrollen gemalte Götterfiguren. Oben im Bild das entsprechende Sanskritzeichen (shuji) in einem Mond-Nimbus.
Verschiedenartige Kleidung, aber alle Statuen mit einem runden Nimbus.
Einige dieser Ten-Figuren (Taishakuten, Bishamonten, Bonten, Emmaten) werden gesondert besprochen.

Jeder Statue ist in diesem Zusammenhang eine Himmelsrichtung und eines der 12 Tierzeichen zugeordnet. Wenn alle 12 Statuen zusammen abgebildet werden, stehen die Gottheiten alle und haben meist die folgende Ikonografie (als Einzelstatuen reiten sie auch auf besonderen Tieren).

Zunächst die Schutzgottheiten der acht Himmelsrichtungen (happoo ten):

Taishakuten..... Indra): Mit Donnerkeil und Lotusblüte in der Hand. Osten.

Feuergott..... (Katen; Agni): Runder Nimbus mit zahlreichen Flammenerscheinungen. Bringt die Gottheit einer Zeremonie durch die brennenden Opfergaben zur Opferstätte. Südosten.

Emmaten, Enmaten..... (Höllenfürst; Yama): Stab mit Menschenschädel in der Hand. Süden.

Rasetsuten..... (Raaksasa, Nairiti): Mit chinesischer Rüstung; Schwert in der Hand. Wilder Dämon, der zur Schutzgottheit des Buddhismus wurde. Siehe 10 Dämonenfrauen. Südwesten.

Wassergott, Drachengott ..... (Suijin, Ryuujin; Varuna): Reitet auf einer Schild~kröte oder einem Drachen. Lebt im Perlenpalast im Meer. Zahlreiche Schlangen um den Kopf. Schützt die Ordnung des Weltalls und die Wege der Menschen, ebenso die Geburten. Besonderer Schutz für Schwangere an jedem Tag des Hundes. Westen.

Windgott..... (Fuuten, Fuujin; Vaayu: Trägt eine wehende Gebetsfahne in der Hand. Bart, Haare und Gewand flattern im Wind. Alte indische Gottheit, bringt Kindersegen, Glück und Reichtum. Nordwesten.

Bishamonten..... (Vaisravana): Dreizack und Pagode in den Händen. Norden.

Izanaten..... , Ishanaten (Isaana; Rudra): Einen dreizackigen Donner~keil in der Hand. Furchterregende Inkarnation der hinduistischen Gottheit Shiva (Daijizaiten). Nordosten.

Zu diesen acht Figuren kommen noch folgende Schutzgottheiten für Oben und Unten sowie für Tag und Nacht:

Bonten..... (Brahman): Mit vier Köpfen. Indischer Gott, der die Welt erschaffen hat. Himmel.

Erdgott..... (Chiten, Jijin, Kenroo Jijin; Prthivi): In chinesischer Rüstung. Manchmal als weibliche Figur. Trägt einen Blumentopf in der Hand. Bestätigt die Erleuchtung des Shakyamuni. Erde.

Sonnengott..... (Nitten; Suurya, Aditya): Trägt eine Sonnenkugel in der Hand. Inkarnation der Kannon. Kannon lebt im Paradies auf der südlichen Insel, wo die Sonne am höchsten steht. Tag.

Mondgott..... (Gatten; Chandra): Trägt eine Mondkugel in der Hand. Inkarnation des Seishi Bosatsu. Nacht.

.Buddhastatuen ... Who is Who
Ten  天  (Devas)

.Buddhastatuen ... Who is Who   

Ein Wegweiser zur Ikonografie
von japanischen Buddhastatuen

Gabi Greve, 1994





Billie Dee said...

Hi Gabi san,

Thanks for pointing me to this link. I guess this covers the origins of feng shui. As always, I admire your generosity and scholarship.

Billie Dee

Unknown said...

Gabi san,
I am very pleased to meet my haiga that has posted before.
Thank you for your sharing.


anonymous said...

1. Introduction to going to sleeping with feet facing West

In this article on how to sleep well we will study the effect of sleeping with our feet facing the West direction. This study about how to sleep well is entirely from the spiritual perspective. It will help us take an educated decision about how to sleep well from the perspective of the direction of our feet when we sleep.

Gabi Greve said...

higashi nishi aware sa hitotsu aki no kaze

Matsuo Basho

East and west
the deep feeling is but one:
autumn wind
Tr. Barnhill

on the death of Mukai Chine 向井千子


Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Drinking tea with Basho

anonymous said...

The Development and Decline of Chinese Cosmology
John B. Henderson
Cosmological ideas influenced every aspect of traditional Chinese culture, from science and medicine to art, philosophy, and religion. Although other premodern societies developed similar conceptions, in no other major civilization were such ideas so pervasive or powerful.

In The Development and Decline of Chinese Cosmology, John Henderson traces the evolution of Chinese thought on cosmic order from the classical era to the nineteenth century. Unlike many standard studies of premodern cosmologies, this book analyzes the origins, development, and rejection of these models, not just their structure. Moreover, while historians often limit their studies of cosmic order to specialized fields like the history of science, Henderson examines how the cosmological ideas formulated in late classical times permeated various facets of Chinese life, from high philosophy to popular culture.

In discussing these ideas, the author draws surprising parallels between the history of Chinese and classical Western cosmologies, identifying general patterns in the development of cosmological conceptions in several premodern civilizations. This volume thus appeals not only to students of Chinese intellectual history, but anyone interested in cultural anthropology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and the history of science and medicine as well.

An understanding of the development and decline of Chinese cosmology illuminates broad areas of traditional Chinese culture and it provides a new perspective for viewing the history of Chinese thought in a larger comparative context.


Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho at Shirakawa

nishi ka higashi ka mazu sanae ni mo kaze no oto

from the west? from the east?
above all in the rice sprouts
the sound of the wind

Tr. Barnhill

MORE about kaze no oto

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

yomo ni utsu nazuna mo shidoro modoro kana

from all sides
the crushing sound of pounding
sheperd's purse . . .

nazuna . . .

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Pilgrimage in Fukushima

Aizu Goshiki Fudo - Five Colors, Five Temples
Aizu Wakagaeri Goshiki Fudo son

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

廣田神社 Hirota Shrine in Aomori.
a special amulet with a kanji pun

buji sugiru - 無事杉る
an amulet to ward off evil influence 魔除けのお守り

with sugi 杉 the cedar tree and sugiru 過ぎる to pass