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Saturday, Sept. 13, 2003
You gotta have wa, and good chi as well
By AMY CHAVEZ
The front door to your house is where chi enters the home. So spruce up your front door with decorations to make it more inviting and to attract only good chi inside.
What? The door to your house opens onto the road? Oh. You have a "Children's 119" help sign on your door, thus actually inviting disaster? Oh. Um, let me check on this. I'll get back to you.
In the meantime, decide if you have chosen the location of your house properly. Your house should have a mountain in the back.
Your neighbors will be whiny types -- mosquitoes -- but at least they can be extinguished easily. This is important.
Think about it -- Japanese have one of the longest lifespans in the world.
Your neighbors, even if they are older than you, are going to be there a long, long time.
Many people think neighbors are luck of the draw. Not so. If you must have a neighbor, choose your neighbor, then the house.
Once you find someone you want to live next to, check out their past, their cooking skills and their willingness to take care of your pet while you're gone.
There should be a foyer, or genkan, inside your house. The house should not be entered like people do on those American sit coms -- by just barging in and starting up a conversation. No, you should stop, admire the entry way and leave your cares at the door with an appropriate shoe change. Do not step on the genkan spider (every genkan has one).
There should be no shortage of nature inside the house. From colonies of insects to whole reed fields of tatami mat, nature is ever-present in side the Japanese house. With the humid summers, just bring in some house plants and you'll have a terrarium. This is what the Japanese mean by being one with nature.
Once inside your house, it should look tidy and clean. Walk-in closets work well to hide stuff. What? Your entire home is a walk-in closet? True, the Japanese are not big on storage spaces, which means you usually live cramped together with all your stuff in the same room.
The rule of thumb here is to throw out anything you haven't used over the past year, especially those things you refused to throw out the year before.
My suggestion is that you throw it all out the window. Physically throwing stuff out, using a good overhand throw, creates side winds that encourage the bad chi to go out of the house with it.
Or better yet, rig your Japanese house like a dump truck, with hydraulic lifts on one end so you can just tilt the whole house and let everything slide out into one nice heap. Coordinate this with "sodai gomi no hi." (Big Trash Day).
Once you're sure your house is tidy and clean again, hang some wind chimes. These not only produce soothing sounds, but also make use of one of our precious natural resources -- wind.
The problem with wind though, is that it is inevitably recycled and you just never know where it's already been.
If the wind flowing into your house is the same wind that just finished destroying a house in a typhoon, for example, the bad chi will be coming right back into your house.
Thus, put a wind chime in the window so it can purify the wind before it gets inside the house. Think of it as baptized air.
Now, back to sprucing up the front door of your house. I now have the answer. It turns out that we're all going to have to move anyway, probably to some far flung island. Because, according to feng shui, no house in Japan can have good chi if it is within range of North Korean missiles.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.amychavez.com