The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Culture | Philosophy

October 2013
A balanced and harmonious office promotes prosperity

By Darren McKellin and Michiaki Tanaka
Do you believe in feng shui?

Developed over 4,000 years ago in China, feng shui is believed to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of life energy. Its favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when designing buildings.

It has a broad following in Asia among people wishing to determine, for instance, the most auspicious design and layout for their home or office. By achieving the maximum harmony between themselves and their surroundings, these devotees believe they can increase their good fortune.

In ancient China, only the emperor used feng shui, so until recently it was treated as a secret technique. However, feng shui has now become a generic term for increasing good fortune in the home and workspace, and has found favor in some circles in Japan for its promise to create a harmonious life.

Tokyo is a densely populated metropolis where, due to lack of space and several unusual buildings designed during the bubble era (1986–1991), many companies are housed in buildings with strange designs and floor layouts.

Thus, the building in the above picture was designed so that the sun could reach the lower floors of the building next door. As a result, the top of the building is much larger than its base. This has created instability and produced poor feng shui.

The building, erected in 1993, was the headquarters of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, Ltd., which went bankrupt about five years after moving to the building.

While architects are increasingly incorporating feng shui principles into their designs, finding the right building, in the right location, and with the right design can mean the difference between success and failure in business.

Basic feng shui practices can be learned by reading books and studying. However, clarity on the subject and in-depth consultations can be provided by professional feng shui consultants.

A good feng shui consultant will make optimum use of the natural surroundings of a space. They will recognize that windows that let in natural light minimize the need for artificial lighting and give an office a more balanced and comfortable atmosphere.

The underlying principle of feng shui in the office is to provide workers with an environment that is harmonious, promotes teamwork, and generally is a pleasant place to work.

Understanding the good luck and money areas—as well as the bad luck areas—of one’s office can make a big difference in the fortunes and sales of an organization.

One of the most important areas of any office is the entrance. A good feng shui plan ensures that no mirror faces the front entrance, as this will push good luck and money out the door. The entrance should promote a smooth inward flow of energy, and serve as a grounding transition between the outer and inner worlds.

If a building has a high tenant turnover, and several tenants have left due to financial difficulties, this should throw up a red flag. Certainly it is possible that appropriate modifications by a good feng shui consultant could counter the negative energy of a suspect building, but such structures are best avoided from the start.

One should be suspicious of buildings that seem to be empty and are being offered at less than the going market rate for the area. Due diligence may reveal the reason that previous tenants moved out.

Having a good feng shui consultant ensures one’s workspace is balanced and in harmony, potentially major factors underpinning business success in Japan. But one should be sure to check a consultant’s credentials and track record before engaging them for a project.

In some upcoming issues of the ACCJ Journal, we will analyze the general feng shui properties of some well known Tokyo buildings.

If you have any questions or tips, or should there be buildings you would like to see covered in our analysis, please email the editor-in-chief:

Darren McKellin is co-chair of the ACCJ Information, Communications, and Technology Committee.

Darren McKellin is co-chair of the ACCJ Information, Communications, and Technology Committee.


Michiaki Tanaka is a representative of the World of Feng Shui Japan and has been a feng shui consultant for over 10 years.

Michiaki Tanaka is a representative of the World of Feng Shui Japan and has been a feng shui consultant for over 10 years.