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I love playing with numbers. I often catch myself noticing when I spot 11:11 on my many out-of-sync digital clocks. I wrote a post about it awhile back.

5 is one of my favorite numbers and I tend to lean toward it. If I’m making a list and only have 4, I try to come up with one more. If I’m choosing, I will often pick 5.

I’ve found that 5 has lots of significance. (Though I suspect whatever number I would’ve chosen could have produced some results in my searching.) The number 5, however, figures prominently in many religions. There are 5 Pillars of Islam and Muslims pray to Allah 5 times a day. That sounds very practical to me as it would cover the day well.

Christianity, too, speaks of my number 5. It represent the Grace of God. People were transformed with Grace when God added 5 to their names. Much of the Bible is set up in 5s, including two sets for the Commandments. The Old Testament contains 5 books, Matthew had 5 books, 5 narratives, 5 discourses. Even Jesus bled from 5 places.

There are, as well, 5 Sacred Symbols in Sikh. In the East Asian religions there is much talk of the 5 Elements, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. These elements come up in the moving arts like Tai Chi.

I believe my favoring of the number came from the Japanese. In Japan, in the Edo period, they built 5 Temples to protect their new capital city of Tokyo. (So far, it’s worked! Even from Godzilla.)

The five senses are revered in Japanese, especially in cooking. From a website called Savory Japan, the author said, “Even though many young Japanese don’t know the origins of the rules, nor can even recite them, the habit is ingrained in the culture to such an extent that it just comes naturally.” Even kids out for an evening of partying, take the number 5 into consideration.

The 5 senses (form and color, sound, smell, taste, and touch) play a huge role in Japanese cooking. The presentation is critical. The right food on the wrong plate can spoil everything. Touch is important down the feel of the utensils used. Sound comes into play for the Japanese. One thing I noticed when I traveled there was that the Japanese are serious about eating. Quiet eating means devoted eating.

From Buddhism comes 5 colors: white, black, red, yellow and green, which has been a tradition in Japan since the 6th century. There are even 5 tastes associated with Japanese cooking. Salt, sweet, sour, bitter and something very Japanese: A concept that means delicious or savory. You prepare food in 5 ways as well: Raw, simmered, fried, steamed, roasted or grilled.

My favorite part is the 5 Attitudes of which I lift directly from the website:
– I reflect on the work that brings this food before me; let me see whence this food comes.
– I reflect on my imperfections, on whether I am deserving of this offering of food.
– Let me hold my mind free from preferences and greed.
– I take this food as an effective medicine to keep my body in good health.
– I accept this food so that I will fulfill my task of enlightenment.

With all this, it’s easy to see that 5 is an auspicious concept in Japanese tradition. The number itself is seen as lucky. Perhaps that’s just a reaction to the unluckiness of 4 and 9. But the word for 5 in Japanese is Go. (I think that’s why I find it so appealing!) The 5 yen coin is considered lucky because of the way the two words sound together forming a word that means “honorably good luck.”

I wish you all go-en!


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