Sun, Jul 22, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Hong Kong: A city still
shaped by feng shui

Feng shui masters are regularly consulted to help make the territory’s buildings harmonious and prosperous

By Matthew Keegan  /  The Guardian

Illustration: June Hsu

“A lot of people design spaces in Hong Kong and then consult a feng shui master afterward, but for us it was very important to consult one right from the beginning,” said Philippa Wong (黃宇弘), cofounder of M.int Academy, a learning center in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen area that teaches music.

Philippa and her sister, Andrea Wong (黃宇恆), opened the center in August last year.

Like many business owners in the territory, they wanted to start off on the right foot and ensure optimal luck and a harmonious environment for their business to flourish, so they hired local feng shui master John Choi (蔡偉雄) to advise on the most auspicious layout and design for their center.

“He advised us on the best places to locate different areas; the best position for the classrooms, our offices and performance spaces,” Andrea said. “He also calculated the exact time that the main entrance door needed to be installed. This is very significant in feng shui.”

“The building management thought we were a bit crazy, but we ended up having to install the door at a very specific time, like 4:01pm. It was very precise. Even all of the lights in the building, every placement, were calculated by John,” she said.

The feng shui influence at the center even extends beneath the carpets.

“John divided the school into a few sections and in certain [ones] we have three types of stickers: We have a blue sticker, a gold sticker and a blue-and-white-striped sticker,” Philippa said. “They help to boost the flow of energy that is coming through the door, so the gold sticker helps to boost money, and the other stickers represent other types of fortune that all combine to help boost our luck as a business and keep the good energy flowing.”

Almost a year after the center opened, the sisters are convinced of the benefits.

“We found the feng shui working for us,” Andrea said. “We have a 98 percent conversion rate when the customer actually comes to our center, so feng shui has definitely played a huge role in that. It’s good energy.”

According to Raymond Lo (盧恆立), vice president of the International Feng Shui Association and one of only five people to earn the title of “grand master,” feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice focused on how the environment affects people’s well-being.

“In ancient China, they discovered that there are different kinds of energies existing in our environment,” Lo said. “Therefore, feng shui tells us where the good and bad energy is and how to maximize the benefit of the prosperous energy and reduce the negative energy.”

In the past, Chinese emperors designed entire cities according to feng shui principles. Today, official adherence in places such as Hong Kong is less explicit, but the practice still influences urban design and architecture through the choices of individual developers, architects and the population.

One such example are the indigenous villagers in Hong Kong’s New Territories. After being forced to move to make way for new housing developments, over the past decade, the villagers have received HK$10 million (US$1.27 million) of public funds to spend on feng shui rituals for their new homes.

“When the government has to take land from villages, the authorities have to respect the local people’s claims that the new developments will destroy their feng shui,” Lo said.

Lo on average does 60 feng shui consultations a year in Hong Kong and said it is not just villagers who are still influenced by the ancient practice.

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