North Star

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  • Japanese: 北辰 (hokushin)

The North Star was associated with the cosmological position of the Emperor since ancient times in China. As Confucius mentions in the Analects, "One who governs through virtue may be compared to the pole star, which occupies its place while the host of other stars pay homage to it."[1] Like the pole star, unmoving and central in the Heavens, so too the Emperor was seen as the link between Heaven and Earth, a point around which the cosmos revolved. The association of the Emperor with the North is also seen in the throne, audience hall, Imperial Palace, and Imperial capital as a whole being organized to face south (such that the people, facing towards the Emperor, would be facing north); this is seen in numerous capitals, from Chang'an and Beijing to Nara and Kyoto.

In Japan, the North Star is deified as both Shinto kami Myôken-shin 妙見神 and as Buddhist bodhisattva Myôken bosatsu.


  1. Analects 2:1, quoted in "Confucius and the Analects," Sources of Chinese Tradition, 46.