Japan Temples and Shrines

Godai – the five elements of Japanese culture

The word godai combines the kanji for five (go) and great (dai), the name for one of the fundamental concepts in Japanese culture, the five elements: earth, water, fire, wind and void. The gorintou is the three-dimensional representation of the five elemnents, perhaps best described as a stack of geometric forms: at the bottom the square representing earth; above the square is a sphere representing water; above the sphere a pirmamid represents fire; a cresent sits on top of the piramid and represents wind; whilst the central Buddhist icon, the lotus flower, which represents the void.

The gorintou is typically used as a gravestone and the pictures are from the cemetry in Koyasan.

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