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Elements in Chinese / Japanese...

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Start your custom "Elements" project by clicking the button next to your favorite "Elements" title below...

Quick links to words on this page...

  1. Five Elements
  2. Wood
  3. Water
  4. Earth
  5. Gold / Metal
  6. Four Elements
  7. Five Elements Tai Chi Fist
  8. Sky / Air / Ether / Space
  9. Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality
10. Fire


Five Elements

China wǔ xíng
Japan gogyou
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This is the title of the five elements which are: wood, fire, water, earth, and metal.

The first character means "5" and the second character is simply "elements."

According to ancient Chinese science, all matter in the world is made up of these elements. One idea presented with the five elements is that when energy is added, 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

China jīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This is a list of the Chinese characters for the five elements in a comfortable order (meaning that they simply "feel right" to a Chinese person who views this arrangement).

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

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

Five Elements

Japan chi sui ka fuu kuu
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This 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.

Wood

(One of the five elements)
China
Japan ki
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This 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.

Water

(One of the five elements)
China shuǐ
Japan mizu
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This is the symbol for water in Japanese and Chinese.


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.

Earth

(One of the five elements)
China
Japan tsuchi
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This 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: Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.

Earth

(Used in Japanese version of five elements)
China
Japan chi / ji / tsushi / tsuchi
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This 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.
This is also an element of the Japanese version of the five elements (the original Chinese version uses a different version of earth).

Gold / Metal

(One of the five elements)
China jīn
Japan kin
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This 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.

Four Elements

Buddhist Term
China dì shuǐ huǒ fēng
Japan chisuikafuu
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This 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) which adds wood to the mix. These four elements are used in some sects of Japanese Buddhism (not so much in Chinese).

Five Elements Tai Chi Fist

China wǔ xíng tài jí quán
Japan go gyou tai kyoku ken
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This 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.

Sky / Air / Ether / Space

China tiān kōng
Japan ten kuu
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

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

Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality

(Used in Japanese version of five elements)
China kōng
Japan kuu / kara / sora / ron
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

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

In 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. This is also an element in the Japanese version of the five elements.

Fire

(One of the five elements)
China huǒ
Japan hi
Mockup of Calligraphy Artwork

This 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.


Check dictionary for elements
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.




If your search is not successful, just post your request on our forum, and we'll be happy to do research or translation for any reasonable request.

Successful Chinese Character and Japanese Kanji calligraphy searches within the last few hours...

Aikido
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Fight
Fire
Friend
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Love Faith Strength
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Ninja
Nothing
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Respect
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With so many searches, we had to upgrade to our own Linux server.
Of course, only one in 500 searches results in a purchase - Hey buy a wall scroll!!!



See: Our list of specifically Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls. And, check out Our list of specifically old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

The following table is only helpful for those studying Chinese (or Japanese), and perhaps helps search engines to find this page when someone enters Romanized Chinese or Japanese

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Five Elements 五行gogyou / gogyowǔ xíng / wu3 xing2 / wu xing / wuxing wu 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
chisuikafuku
Wood kimù / mu4 / mu
Water mizushuǐ / shui3 / shui
Earth tsuchitǔ / tu3 / tu t`u / tu
Earth chi / ji / tsushi / tsuchidì / di4 / di ti
Gold / Metal kinjīn / jin1 / jin chin
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
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
gogyotaikyokuken
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
Sky / Air / Ether / Space 天空ten kuu / tenkuu / ten ku / tenkutiān kōng
tian1 kong1
tian kong
tiankong
t`ien k`ung
tienkung
tien kung
Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality kuu / kara / sora / ron
ku / kara / sora / ron
ku/kara/sora/ron
kōng / kong1 / kong k`ung / kung
Fire hihuǒ / huo3 / huo

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.

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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