Of Trees and Beasts: Site Selection in Premodern East Asia

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This paper focuses on a site selection practice called shijin sōō 四神相応 ("correspondence to the four deities") in Japanese sources. The practice is a subcategory within site divination (風水 Ch. fengshui, Jp. fūsui); the latter encompasses practices and beliefs connected to the determination of ideal sites to construct graves, found cities, build houses, etc. Among the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese sources that describe this specific divinatory practice of "correspondence to the four deities," several texts provide a practical—and in most cases fairly easily realizable albeit not always sound—solution to remedy any shortcomings in the surrounding topography. According to these sources, lack of auspiciousness due to missing landscape features could be corrected by planting specific species of trees. In a number of cases, the sources even go so far as to specify the actual number of trees to be planted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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