Some Thoughts on the Japanese Concept of the House

Why the roof is the "root" of the house

Why the roof is the “root” of the house

The use of 屋 ya to mean a person of a particular character or profession is very interesting.

The root-meaning implies a house (部屋 heya = room, 屋根 yane = roof). The house is often spoken of as part of a threefold archetypal relationship – the cosmos (with, symbolically, the sun at the center), the individual (with, symbolically the heart at the center) and the house (with, symbolically, the hearth at the center). The three centers are equivalent and all reflections of the Supernal Sun, of which the physical sun is a reflection. That is why we Herthelani greet people with Rayati – “hail to the sun (in you)” referring to the solar heart.

However, the “house” does not merely mean the physical building or even the hestia taken in the modern sense, but also the group to which one belongs. English is terrible at expressing this, and the term “group” is very weak, very sterile-feeling, and really conveys nothing of the sense of words like 仲間 nakama -one’s own-people. The “in-group” to which one belongs (the common translation “in-group” is very akward because English really has no natural and customary term for it – since it has lost the concept) is called 内 uchi, which is closely related to 家 uchi or ie meaning house (very sketchily, the pronunciation ie is closer to “physical house” and uchi to “home”).

One’s uchi is essentially what one “belongs to” and one will introduce oneself as “[uchi] no [name]” – “Queen Mayanna House no Carleon” =  “[Lady] Carleon who belongs to Queen Mayanna house”. Similarly people belong to their vocation, an idea that in the world of Tellurian capitalism with its ideal of total interchangeability of persons and vocations has become meaningless (a very informative article on this from a non-West Tellurian perspective can be found here).

Interestingly the honorific -san attached after ya is regularly given to both shops and their owners. パン屋さん panyasan is both the baker’s shop and the baker (incidentally the use of the “san” for the shop is often dropped in modern Japanese male speech, but much less in feminine speech).

It is perhaps a little of a diversion to discuss why 屋根 yane – “roof” should literaly mean “house-root”. But let’s anyway! Thinking in purely material terms, West Tellurians would think of a house’s “root” as its foundations. Students may wish to compare the traditional concept of the “inverted tree” with its roots in Heaven (you will find more in this book if you scroll to chapter 53 – “The World Tree” and the following chapters). The roof of the house represents its connection with Heaven, and therefore its true root. It is through the chimney that the Star Fairy enters the house at the Northern Gate of the Year – the upper or northern gate of the house, being, of course, equivalent. The foundations of the house represent its pole of substance, while the roof represents the pole of Essence. While the material root of a house is indeed its foundation, its “superior root”, the source of its Archetype*, is symbolically the roof.

Thus, 屋根 yane = house-root = roof is metaphysically exact.


* Note: the Essence of a thing is what makes it what it is, while substance enables its manifestation. Without substance a thing would be non-manifest but would still be what it is. Without Essence it would not be what it is. Therefore its Essence is the True Root. It is precisely the attempt to derive Form or Essence out of substance (and indeed not even substance itself, but merely the secondary substance called “matter”) via “evolutionism” and other forms of “accidental development” theory in physics, that unpinned the Rajasic spiritual economy of West Telluria and laid the ground for post modernism and the Eclipse.


PS – sorry for the horribly awkward term “spiritual economy” – as usual, English has no words for concepts it has so long discarded. I mean its essential narrative, its form-language its image-sphere connection to the roots of being.