Thursday, 14 May 2015

Homeward Bound (Part 3)

(Our New Home in Kikuyo Town, Japan, 2015)
And now that the house is built and we are ready to make our move, we find out that there are a number of superstitions regarding moving in Japan. Some of these are related to 風水 Fu-sui, Feng-shui; "a philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment."

Apart from any mystical implications, Feng Shui may be simply understood as a traditional test of architectural goodness using a collection of metaphors. The test may be static or a simulation. Simulations may involve moving an imaginary person or organic creature, such as a dragon of a certain size and flexibility, through a floor plan to uncover awkward turns and cramped spaces before actual construction. This is entirely analogous to imagining how a wheelchair might pass through a building, and is a plausible exercise for architects, who are expected to have exceptional spatial visualization talents. A static test might try to measure comfort in architecture through a ‘hills and valleys’ metaphor. The big hill at your back is a metaphor for security, the open valley and stream represents air and light, and the circle of low hills in front represents both invitation to visitors and your control of your immediate environment. The various Feng Shui tenets represent a set of metaphors that suggest architectural qualities that the average human finds comfortable. (Wikipedia, 2015) 

Traditional Japanese Calendar 
other superstitions are related to the Japanese calendar which includes lucky and unlucky days to perform such things as moving into a new house or apartment and getting married. Below is an outline of the Japanese calendar adapted from wikipedia
English - Common Japanese - Traditional Japanese
January - 1月 Ichigatsu -  睦月Mutuski, Month of Affection
February - 2月 Nigatsu -  衣更着 Kinusaragi, Changing Clothes
March - 3月 Sangatsu -  弥生 Yayoi, New Life
April - 4月 Shigatsu -  卯月 Uzuki, the Month of the Utsugi flower
May - 5月 Gogatsu - 早苗月 Sanaetsuki, the Month of early rice planting
June - 6月 Rokugatsu - 水無月 Minazuki, the Month of Water
July - 7月 Shichigatsu - 文月 Fumizuki, the Month of Literature
August - 8月 Hachigatsu - 葉月 Hazuki, the Month of Leaves
September - 9月 Kugatsu - 長月 Nagatsuki, the Long Month
October - 10月 Jugatsu - 神無月 Kaminazuki, the Month of the gods
November - 11月 Juichigatsu - 霜月 Shimotsuki, the Month of Frost
December - 12月 Junigatsu - 師走 Shiwasu, Running Priests
As we can see from the traditional Japanese names for the Months of the Year, there was a very strong tie to nature and the shinto religion. Within the Japanese calendar, which is based on the Chinese calendar, there are series of lucky and unlucky days known as 六曜 Rokuyo or 六輝 Rokki because they are calculated in a series of six days. It is said that they can predict good and bad fortune according to these days and even today people plan their weddings and funerals around the Rokuyo.
(Calendar showing the Rokuyo written in black below the date)

The following is an outline of these 6 days:
先勝 Sensho On this day there will be good luck before noon and bad luck afternoon. It is recommended to host events in the morning of this day.
友引 Tomobiki Bad things will happen to friends on this day if an event is held. Funerals particularly are avoided on this day as it is believed that a funeral might pull friends closer to the deceased. Most crematoriums are closed on this day in Japan.
先負 Senbu On this day there will be bad luck before noon and good luck after noon.
仏滅 Butsumetsu This day is symbolic of the day the Buddha died and is considered the most unlucky day. Events such as weddings are avoided, shop openings and moving into a new residence are avoided on this day. Some Shinto shrines even close their offices on this day.
大安 Taian This is the most lucky day considered the best day to marry, open a new business or move residence.
赤口 Shakko This is the hour of the Horse between the hours of 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. On this day the only time that is considered lucky is between these hours, the rest of the day is bad.
These days are calculated by the luni-solar calendar with January 1st always Sensho with the following six days running in the order listed above. With each new Month the order advances by one; February 1st would therefore be Tomobiki, March 1st Senbu and so on. These days can be seen written in red or black on most calendars sold in Japan.
Our Moving Situation
We had originally planned on moving into our new home in May sometime around the Golden Week Holiday, this is a series of consecutive National holidays in Japan when most people either return home or travel. We wanted to be in our home by the end of the Month to save on rent, Internet, and other utilities, we also wanted to move before the beginning of rainy season which usually starts in early June.
So my Mother-in-law was on the phone with her sister who lives in Kagoshima, South East of Kumamoto and she mentioned the moving dates that we had planned. Her sister got very upset and strongly advised her that we should avoid moving in the Month of May. Shortly after that she called and told us to change our moving dates. We are not very superstitious, but I do believe that things happen for a reason and now that we were presented with this we decided it best to change the date and called the moving service which we had booked and changed the date without any trouble.
The date we decided on is June 6th and as it turns out, June 6th, 2015 is Taian we should have a smooth move according to the calendar. I'll let you know how it goes.

(Calendar for June, 2015 Showing that June 6th is Taian)

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