Kyushu University Academic Staff Educational and Research Activities Database
List of Books
Ellen E. M. A. Van Goethem Last modified date:2019.07.04

Associate Professor / International Master's Program (IMAP) and International Doctorate (IDOC) in Japanese Humanities / Department of Philosophy / Faculty of Humanities


Books
1. Ellen Elza Melina Albert Van Goethem, Feng Shui Symbolism in Japan: The Four Divine Beasts, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 41, 35–48, 2013, This paper presents a discussion of the appearance and context of feng shui symbolism in Japan. Attention is focused on the four divine beasts and their associated symbolism from their initial appearance on the Japanese archipelago until the ninth century and from the mid-nineteenth century until the present day, in an attempt to show how this symbolism became fully assimilated to the point that it appeared in (early) modern times in contexts no longer consciously associated with “original,” foreign practices or was fully absorbed into contexts that are deemed quintessentially Japanese.
By doing so, I would like to argue that the four directional animals preserved their role of “multivalent signs,” susceptible to many applications, interpretations, meanings and values. As symbols, visual depictions of underlying concepts, the four divine beasts adapted to (or, better still, were appropriated by) changing circumstances and ideologies to appear in new and entirely different contexts..
2. Ellen Elza Melina Albert Van Goethem, Animated City: Life Force, Guardians, and Contemporary Architecture in Kyoto, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018, Like practitioners of many other occupations, architects are often asked to justify the meaning behind their creations or are required to envelop their proposals in appealing narratives to attract clients, to promote their projects, or to convince neighbors, city authorities, and competition jurors.
In this chapter, I explore the long-held conviction that Kyoto is a city animated by various invisible agencies and how this notion has influenced its architecture between the 1990s and the early 2000s. Inspired by the belief that the city was designed and built in the late eighth century according to the core principles of site divination––popularly known as geomancy or fengshui (風水 Ch. fēng shuǐ, Jp. fūsui)––, it is generally assumed that Kyoto is vitalized by the invisible flow of qi (Ch. qì 氣, Jp. ki 気, “life force” or “cosmic breath”) and protected by the guardians of the four directions.
Starting in the 1990s, when a fengshui boom gripped Japan, several architectural projects in Kyoto were conceived, announced, or justified with explicit reference to these practices either because of the architect’s personal beliefs, a particular client’s request, or to convince the general public of the project’s suitability to the city. Be it implicitly or explicitly, from the outset or post hoc, fengshui-derived concepts informed––at least in part and for different reasons––the design of the architectural projects discussed here. Moreover, it will become clear that the three architects behind the projects, Hara Hiroshi 原広司, Isozaki Arata 磯崎新, and Umebayashi Katsu 梅林克, each differ in their level of commitment to fengshui, ranging from a near-total immersion to a more casual engagement with and isolated application of its principles..
3. Ellen E. M. A. Van Goethem, Ellen Van Goethem, Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, "Feng Shui Symbolism in Japan: The Four Divine Beasts" in Florian C. Reiter (ed.), Theory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art (Asien- und Afrika-Studien der Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin) 41, 35-48., 2013.11, This paper presents a discussion of the appearance and context of feng shui symbolism in Japan. Attention is focused on the four divine beasts and their associated symbolism from their initial appearance on the Japanese archipelago until the ninth century and from the mid-nineteenth century until the present day, in an attempt to show how this symbolism became fully assimilated to the point that it appeared in (early) modern times in contexts no longer consciously associated with “original”, foreign practices or was fully absorbed into contexts that are deemed quintessentially Japanese.
By doing so, I would like to argue that the four directional animals preserved their role of "multivalent signs", susceptible to many applications, interpretations, meanings and values. As symbols, visual depictions of underlying concepts, the four divine beasts adapted to (or, better still, were appropriated by) changing circumstances and ideologies to appear in new and entirely different contexts..
4. Michael J. Mak (編)、 Albert T. So (編), "Tracing Feng Shui in Ancient Japanese Capitals - Case Study: Nagaoka, Japan's Forgotten Capital" in Research in Scientific Feng Shui and the Built Environment, City University of Hong Kong Press, 151頁-166頁, 2009.02.
5. Ellen Van Goethem, Nagaoka, Japan's Forgotten Capital, Brill, 2008.04.
6. Translation and analysis of Man'yōshū 2 : 207 - 209, poems by Kakinomoto Hitomaro (ca.662 - ca.710).