Japanese Philosophy of Five Elements

GODAI - Japanese Philosophy of Five Elements

五大 GODAI means Five Great, with the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Void.


地 Earth  CHI - The earth, ground. Resistance to movements. Stability.

水 - Water - SUI - Fluid, Liquid. Flexibility. Adaptability.

火 - Fire - KA - Power, Passion, Motivation. 

風 - Wind - FUU - Growth, Expansion, Freedom. 

空 - Void - KUU- Also means Sky. Unlimited space, Spirituality, Creativity.


This philosophy of five elements are originated from Buddhism, different from the Chinese theory of five elements. GODAI is used in Japanese architecture and Zen gardens, as well as in martial arts training. We can go deeper to explore this philosophy, but here I just share the key aspects.


One of the most interesting elements is 空 - Void, Sky. It is the highest of the five. It is the empty space, stillness, silence. I would say it is the door to connect to our unlimited power, which you may call it higher-self or God. We connect to this essence of power in our everyday lives, when our mind is still and silent, through meditations, rituals, and practices.


For our everyday lives, we need to have all five elements in balance. If we have an excess, it will become a negative element and would cause unbalance in physical form. For example, stability becomes stubbornness, Flexibility becomes indecisiveness, Too much fire can turn into anger. 


This logo is a design based on my family crest, UMEBACHI, with a modern touch. This logo also reminds me of GODAI philosophy every day to keep myself in balance.


Here is my poem that we can use as an affirmation.



five elements of life


地 CHI - Earth

With the power of Earth,

I build my foundation.

Keep me in balance


水 SUI – Water

With the power of Water,

I eliminate what is not meant for me.

Keep my soul clean


火 KA – Fire

With the power of fire,

I activate my body, my senses.

Keep my heart warm


風 FU – Wind 

With the power of wind,

 I share my thoughts and feeling.

Let my soul connected


空 KU – Air 

With the power of Air,

I empty my thoughts

Open to receive


Azumi Uchitani