The Japanese Expression Known as Rokkon Shojo

Japan is a country that has gotten involved with several religions throughout the centuries of its existence. Each of these religions brought in intriguing beliefs and practices that stayed alive in the Japanese culture because of the messages there beliefs and practices sent as well as the values and lessons they taught to those who followed it. Some of the practices and expressions you can find in certain religions have their respective counterpart in other religions. These cases of similarity between different religions, however, does not mean that there are no unique beliefs and practices in a religion. A perfect example of such a unique thing is the Buddhist expression or philosophy known as Rokkon Shojo.

The Anime that Made the “Rokkon Shojo” Popular With the Youth of Today

This Buddhist expression has existed in Japan since the time that Buddhism started there but it has not been a popular saying or expression compared to the other expressions in Buddhism.  This, being the case, would essentially not be a problem but its use in the fairly new anime called “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” may lead those who are not familiar with the philosophy astray with regards to what it actually means.

By Kabaneri Production Committee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is an anime that was released in the year of 2016. It is comprised of a total of 12 episodes and was premiered on Fuji TV, which is a broadcasting network that reaches nearly all the kids and teens as well as some adults in Japan. In one of their episodes, a young female warrior used the phrase “Rokkon Shojo” right before she killed one beast and this scene was so memorable that watchers of the show started to research what it meant.

There are many explanations for this phrase you can find online. If the watchers of the show chose to take the meaning of the phrase as something like “for purification” and then relate it to her killing something that was half-human and half-vampire, it might corrupt the true Buddhist essence of this phrase for them and the younger generation. This is a risk because the context of the act combined with this particular meaning of the phrase hints to an ideology much like the one Hitler had against other races. Others might find this as an exaggerated assessment of a risk but who can ever tell how far a mistaken philosophy or ideology can go in terms of a child’s decisions in life.

The Actual Meaning of Rokkon Shoujo in Japanese

As stated earlier, there can be several interpretations of this phrase that you can find online and they are all true to an extent. The answer to the question of its meaning, however, is best described by a Shinto doctrine called “Rokkon Shojo haraikotoba: Kokoro no kessai”. This is what most consider the best description of the meaning of the phrase because it is the explanation that goes the deepest in terms of a more detail breakdown of this philosophy.

In this doctrine, it explains how there are actually 6 senses a human has. You have the 5 human senses and then there is a 6th sense referred to as the mind or consciousness. The doctrine enumerates and goes through all the 5 sense brought about by the eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and skin. In each line, the 5 senses are said to be constantly exposed to the dirt or bad things of the world and in each line, it also says that the consciousness and mind of a person can never be exposed to such dirt or bad influences in the world.

Relating this to the simplified explanation of “Rokkon Shojo”, sometimes also known as “Rokkon Shou Jou”, which states that one should purify the heart, you immediately get a clearer picture of the beauty this philosophy holds and teaches people. Every day bad things happen to people. Sometimes, when these people experience the hard times, they let it change them to the core. For example, if a person gets heartbroken and because of the pain, he or she chooses to close his or her heart to everything. By letting an experience like that change his or herself in that way, he or she is letting the dirt of the world corrupt their core or their true selves. These mistakes happen every day and sometimes, its effects even go unnoticed. Luckily, these things are not permanent because as you changed before, you can change once again to be better with the right guidance and mindset.

The Practices Tied to Rokkon Shojo

People are born as good people into this world. As you grow older, more things get a little complicated and this complication tends to confuse peoples’ moral compasses. It takes real work and effort to maintain the pureness of the mind and consciousness and learning about a phrase like “Rokkon Shojo” while really taking its message to your heart can really help you attain and maintain this pureness if you truly desire it.

In the religions of Shintoism and Buddhism, you will be able to find practices that they do to attain mastery of this philosophy. Followers of these religions usually use the phrase during climbs to the top of Mount Fuji. They do so by constantly repeating the phrase to themselves as they climb higher and higher. It is believed that the harder your climb is, the purer your heart can become. There are also people who believe that doing this climb during the night time is the best time to do so because, by the time you reach the top of the mountain, you will catch the sunrise which signifies your purification from darkness to light.

This practice stems from the followers of the Shugendo doctrine of Buddhism which has always been known for their traditions of contemplating nature as well as solo mountain dwelling. It basically teaches you to cut yourself from worldly attachments so that you can achieve enlightenment. Comparing it to the climb for purification, although the goal might not be for enlightenment, these goals are still similar because of how they both point towards a higher form of satisfaction with life.

If you aren’t so game to climb Mount Fuji for this. There is another spot in Japan that is known for its involvement with this act of purification or pilgrimage and it is called Mount Mitoku. Opting to go here for the pilgrimage might be the better choice for you if you would also like to enjoy the warmth and relaxation given the Misasa Onsen you can enjoy here. According to local legend, this hot spring was introduced by a white wolf to the travelers of this pilgrimage to cleanse their body and mind prior to the climb up Mount Mitoku.

It has been centuries yet this onsen remains to have great ties to the beliefs and religious practices at Mount Mitoku. It might have been a bit harder to get to before but due to the improvements in Japanese infrastructures during the recent centuries, this pilgrimage site has become more accessible by train and airplane as well. If you are traveling by plane, you must land at the Haneda Airport first. From there, you must take the trains to get to the station known as the JR Kurayoshi Station. From there, ask directions on how to get to Misasa in the Tottori Prefecture.

Dates are usually something to look out for when planning trips to these kinds of areas because some mountainous attractions in Japan tend to close during the winter. For this mountain, however, whether it is the month of January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, or December, you would still have no problem getting here and going on the pilgrimage because these attractions and activities are available all year round.