Finding Godai – The Five Elements In Japanese Culture

Godai represents the 5 principle elements as represented in ancient Japanese philosophy of the nature of things originating in the 5th century.  These elements: fire, earth, water, wind and void, are expressed by timeless glaze options that form the core of this glazed porcelain tile series. 


“The godai is the five elements; the gorintou is the three-dimensional representation of that concept. It can be best described as a stack of geometric forms, like a totem pole … A cube forms the base, with a sphere on top of that, then a pyramid, then a crescent, like a new moon lying on its side, and at the top, a form reminiscent of a lotus flower..”

The Five Elements in Japanese Culture


Chi (earth): Represented by the square, chi is the fundamental element, the base upon which all else rests … dependable, sure, solid. It is a good base on which build the godai.

Sea Green is a gloss glaze characterized by undulating hues of green and blue/green evocative of a verdant field.

[SKU shown:  D4-JTS2CH01]

Sui (water): Represented by a circle, or sphere, sui sits upon the solid base of chi, but look at the difference! Instead of stable and unmoving…Sui flows, representing the formless things of the world…

Midnight Blue is a dynamic, glossy glaze  offering a range of intensities enhanced by the concave surfaces of this unique tile format.

[SKU shown:  D5-JTS2CH01]

Blue Godai Tile Feature

Ka (fire): A flame-like pyramid represents fire, sitting upon the sphere of sui, pointing upward, the motivating energy that lifts, that animates, and that ultimately destroys.

Plum Red is a glaze that connects to the vibrant fall colors of Japanese maple trees, a culturally celebrated and reflective time in Japan.

[SKU shown:  DR-JTS2CH01]

Fu (wind): Atop the triangle/pyramid of ka sits the crescent-shaped fu, representing wind, emblematic of things that move, that have freedom, that fly through the air. 

Pearl is a gloss glaze that imparts a light and airy feel to a space, creating impressions of blue sky  on a cloudy day.

[SKU shown:  D3-JTS2CH01]

Ku (void): The fifth element sits atop even fu’s crescent … ku represents not everything, but nothing: the void … and can be translated as sky, as heaven Ku is the source of  our creativity …

Metallic Bronze radiates a timeless quality, its matte glaze patina representative of the traditional metalworking craft.

[SKU shown:  DB-JTS2CH01]

The five elements are expressed in traditional stone towers called gorintō, and the many goju-no-to (five storied pagodas) found in temples throughout Japan.

Parts of a Gorintō
Godai (Japanese philosophy),  (January 2021). In Wikipedia.

You might also enjoy