Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1: 1. General Introduction
カテゴリー2: Special Topics
カテゴリー1: Special Topics
カテゴリー2: Special Topics
Daily Aspects (higara) and Directional Taboos (hōi)
The phrase "Today, even the day's aspect is good," (本日はお日柄も良く) is a familiar expression heard at Japanese weddings. This statement refers to the fact that the day is one of "taian," or "great peace and auspiciousness," the most positive of the "six daily aspects" (rokuyō). These six are: senshō (先勝), tomobiki (友引), senbu (先負), butsumetsu (仏滅), taian (大安), and shakkō (赤口). Phrases like this in present-day Japan are a partial carryover of what was, in the Edo period, a widespread popular belief in the six daily aspects. In other words, the customs of avoiding holding funerals on "tomobiki" days and trying to hold weddings on "taian" days (and if that is not possible, at least trying to avoid "butsumetsu" days) in Japan today are representative of this belief's lingering presence. Because these six deal with the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of days, they are called "higara," the "daily character" or "daily aspect."
     In addition to daily aspects, there are also directional taboos, the best known among them today being the kimon (lit. the "demon gate") and katatagae (the practice of changing a direction to avoid a tabooed direction). The "demon gate" is associated with the northeasterly direction, thus in the construction of a house, locating such things as toilets to the northeast of a house's "center" (known as its daikokubashira) is considered taboo. The influence of this way of thinking can also be seen in the layout of Japanese cities, which explains why Kan'ei temple in Ueno was built where it was. Kan'ei temple lies directly northeast of where Edo Castle once stood, intended to protect the castle's kimon. In the world of Japanese folk beliefs, not all times and spaces are considered equal, forming a complex spatio-temporal schema that incorporated notions of auspiciousness and inauspiciousness.

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