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The name Elements in Chinese / Japanese...

Buy an Elements calligraphy wall scroll here!

Personalize your custom “Elements” project by clicking the button next to your favorite “Elements” title below...


  1. Earth

  2. Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality

  3. Fire

  4. Five Elements Tai Chi Fist

  5. Five Elements

  6. Four Elements

  7. Godai / Five Elements

  8. Gold / Metal

  9. Sky / Air / Ether / Space

10. Elements of the Tea Ceremony

11. Water

12. Wood


Earth

(One of the five elements)

 tǔ
 tsuchi
 
Earth Scroll

土 is earth, soil, ground, or Terra.


Earth is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth.


See Also:  Chinese Zodiac

Earth

(Used in Japanese version of five elements)

 dì
 chi / ji / tsushi / tsuchi
 
Earth Scroll

地 is the single-character element and title of the planet Earth in Chinese, old Korean Hanja, and Japanese Kanji.

Because this is a single character, the definition is a little ambiguous and can have many meanings depending on the context in which it is used. These meanings include: earth, ground, land, soil, dirt, place, territory, bottom (of a package, book, etc.), earth (one of the Japanese five elements), the region in question, the local area, skin, texture, fabric, material, weave, base, background, one's true nature, narrative (i.e. descriptive part of a story), real life, actuality, etc.

In Japanese, this Kanji can be pronounced several ways, including chi, ji, tsushi, or tsuchi.
地 is also an element of the Japanese version of the five elements (the original Chinese version uses a different version of earth).

Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality

(Used in Japanese version of five elements)

 kōng
 kuu / kara / sora / ron
 
Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality Scroll

空 is a single character that means empty, void, hollow, vacant, vacuum, blank, nonexistent, vacuity, voidness, emptiness, non-existence, immateriality, unreality, the false or illusory nature of all existence, and being unreal.

In the Buddhist context, this relates to the doctrine that all phenomena and the ego have no reality but are composed of a certain number of skandhas or elements, which disintegrate. The void, the sky, space. The universal, the absolute, complete abstraction without relativity. The doctrine further explains that all things are compounds, or unstable organisms, possessing no self-essence, i.e. are dependent, or caused, come into existence only to perish. The underlying reality, the principle of eternal relativity, or non-infinity, i.e. śūnya, permeates all phenomena making possible their evolution.

From Sanskrit and/or Pali, this is the translation to Chinese and Japanese of the title śūnya or śūnyatā.

In Japanese, when pronounced as “ron” (sounds like “roan”) this can be a given name. It should be noted that this Kanji has about 5 different possible pronunciations in Japanese: kuu, kara, sora, ron, and uro. 空 is also an element in the Japanese version of the five elements.

Fire

(One of the five elements)

 huǒ
 hi
 
Fire Scroll

火 is the symbol for fire, flame, or blaze in Chinese, Korean and Japanese.


Fire is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.

Five Elements Tai Chi Fist

 wǔ xíng tài jí quán
 go gyou tai kyoku ken
Five Elements Tai Chi Fist Scroll

五行太極拳 is a certain school or style of Tai Chi (Taiji).

The characters literally mean “Five Elements Tai Chi Fist.”

Notes:
In Taiwan, it would be Romanized as “Wu Hsing Tai Chi Chuan” - see the standard Mandarin method above in the gray box (used in mainland China and the official Romanization used by the Library of Congress).

The last three characters are sometimes translated as “Grand Ultimate Fist,” so the whole thing can be “Five Elements Grand Ultimate Fist” if you wish.

I have not confirmed the use of this title in Korean but if it is used, it's probably only by martial arts enthusiasts. The pronunciation is correct, as shown above for Korean.

Five Elements

 wǔ xíng
 gogyou
Five Elements Scroll

五行 is the title of the five elements: wood, fire, water, earth, and metal.

The first character means five, and the second character is simply element(s).

According to ancient Chinese science, all matter in the world is comprised of these elements. One idea presented with the five elements is that when energy is added, the matter is believed to expand. When energy is removed, matter contracts. Oddly, this concept is not far from Einstein's theories and modern science. Just a few thousand years before Einstein.


More info: Wikipedia - Five Elements (Wu Xing).


See Also:  Wood | Fire | Water | Earth | Metal

Five Elements

 jīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ
Five Elements Scroll

金木水火土 is a list of the Chinese characters for the five elements in a comfortable order (meaning that they “feel right” to a Chinese person who views this arrangement).

The order is metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.

Note that sometimes the metal element is translated as gold. And earth refers to soil versus the whole planet earth.

Five Elements

 chi sui ka fuu kuu
Five Elements Scroll

地水火風空 is the specifically-Japanese version of the five elements.

This is a little different than the ancient or original Chinese version.

The elements are written in this order:
1. Earth / Terra / Ground
2. Water
3. Fire
4. Wind / Air
5. Sky / Emptiness / Void / Ether

Note: This set of Kanji can also be romanized as “ji sui ka fuu kuu,” “jisuikafuukuu,” or “jisuikafuku.”


These can also be written in the order 地火風水空 (chi ka sui fuu kuu). Let me know when you place your order if you want the Kanji to be in this character order.

Four Elements

Buddhist Term

 dì shuǐ huǒ fēng
 chisuikafuu
Four Elements Scroll

地水火風 is a Buddhist term that means “earth, water, fire, wind.”

This is often just referred to as “the four elements.” There is a more common title (the five elements) that adds wood to the mix. These four elements are used in some sects of Japanese Buddhism (not so much in Chinese).

Godai / Five Elements

 wǔ dà
 godai
Godai / Five Elements Scroll

五大 is the Japanese title for the five elements.

In Japan, the five elements differ slightly from the original Chinese. Therefore, in Japanese philosophy, you have earth, water, fire, wind, and void (space).

The meaning of the first character is 5, but the second character means great or large. Some translate this as the five majors. 大 is only understood as “elements” when you have 五 in front of it.

In Buddhism, this can be short for 五大明王, or the five great and wise kings.

Gold / Metal

(One of the five elements)

 jīn
 kin
Gold / Metal Scroll

金 is the symbol for metal (often means gold or money) in Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

In an interesting twist, in Japanese, this Kanji can also mean “Friday.” I guess Friday is “the golden day” in Japan.


Gold / Metal is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.

Sky / Air / Ether / Space

 tiān kōng
 ten kuu
Sky / Air / Ether / Space Scroll

天空 means sky in most contexts but it can also refer to air, space, the heavens, or ether.

Elements of the Tea Ceremony

Wa Kei Sei Jaku

 wa kei sei jaku
Elements of the Tea Ceremony Scroll

和, 敬, 清, 寂 or Wa, Kei, Sei, Jaku are the principles of the way of tea or 茶道.

The meanings are:
Harmony 和 (wa).
Respect 敬 (kei).
Purity 清 (sei).
Tranquility 寂 (jaku).


These principles or tenets were created by tea master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591). More about these ideas: Chanoyu


See Also:  The Way of Tea

Water

(One of the five elements)

 shuǐ
 mizu / sui
 
Water Scroll

水 is the symbol for water in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.


Water is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.

Wood

(One of the five elements)

 mù
 ki
 
Wood Scroll

木 is the symbol for wood in Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

This can sometimes mean “tree” depending on context. In fact, the character comes from a pictogram that is supposed to resemble a tree.


Wood is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.


The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Earthtsuchitǔ / tu3 / tut`u / tu
Earthchi / ji / tsushi / tsuchidì / di4 / diti
Sky
Ether
Void
Emptiness
Unreality
kuu / kara / sora / ron
ku / kara / sora / ron
kōng / kong1 / kongk`ung / kung
Firehihuǒ / huo3 / huo
Five Elements Tai Chi Fist五行太極拳
五行太极拳
go gyou tai kyoku ken
gogyoutaikyokuken
go gyo tai kyoku ken
wǔ xíng tài jí quán
wu3 xing2 tai4 ji2 quan2
wu xing tai ji quan
wuxingtaijiquan
wu hsing t`ai chi ch`üan
wuhsingtaichichüan
wu hsing tai chi chüan
Five Elements五行gogyou / gogyowǔ xíng / wu3 xing2 / wu xing / wuxingwu hsing / wuhsing
Five Elements金木水火土jīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ
jin1 mu4 shui3 huo3 tu3
jin mu shui huo tu
jinmushuihuotu
chin mu shui huo t`u
chinmushuihuotu
chin mu shui huo tu
Five Elements地水火風空
地水火风空
chi sui ka fuu kuu
chisuikafuukuu
chi sui ka fu ku
Four Elements地水火風
地水火风
chisuikafuu
chisuikafu
dì shuǐ huǒ fēng
di4 shui3 huo3 feng1
di shui huo feng
dishuihuofeng
ti shui huo feng
tishuihuofeng
Godai
Five Elements
五大godaiwǔ dà / wu3 da4 / wu da / wudawu ta / wuta
Gold
Metal
kinjīn / jin1 / jinchin
Sky
Air
Ether
Space
天空ten kuu / tenkuu / ten kutiān kōng
tian1 kong1
tian kong
tiankong
t`ien k`ung
tienkung
tien kung
Elements of the Tea Ceremony和敬清寂wa kei sei jaku
wakeiseijaku
Watermizu / suishuǐ / shui3 / shui
Woodkimù / mu4 / mu
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.


Dictionary

Lookup Elements in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary


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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.


Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

Some people may refer to this entry as Elements Kanji, Elements Characters, Elements in Mandarin Chinese, Elements Characters, Elements in Chinese Writing, Elements in Japanese Writing, Elements in Asian Writing, Elements Ideograms, Chinese Elements symbols, Elements Hieroglyphics, Elements Glyphs, Elements in Chinese Letters, Elements Hanzi, Elements in Japanese Kanji, Elements Pictograms, Elements in the Chinese Written-Language, or Elements in the Japanese Written-Language.

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