Word of the Week: 六根清浄

It’s time for Word of the Week again! Last time we looked at a Japanese word or phrase beginning with ‘re’ (れ), focussing on  レベルアップする (reberu appu suru), which means ‘to level up’ or to improve one’s skills. This week, I’m looking for a word or phrase beginning with ‘ro’ (ろ). A big thank you for the suggestions I received this week (it was a super tough one, wasn’t it?):

Japan Australia suggested ‘rouka’ (老化), ‘ageing’ or ‘senile deterioration’; and ‘romanchikku’ (ロマンチック), ‘romantic’; Fran suggested ‘rokudemonai’ (ろくでもない), ‘good-for-nothing; and ‘rokudemonai koto o iu’ (ろくでもない事を言う), ‘to talk rubbish’; via Facebook Steven suggested ‘rousuru’ (労する), ‘to work’, ‘to labour’; Kazue suggested ‘rokugasuru’ (録画する), ‘to record’; ‘ronjiru’ (論じる), ‘to argue’, ‘to discuss’; and ‘roguin suru’ (ログインする), ‘to login’; and at work Ben suggested ‘ronin sei’ (浪人生), a student who failed their university entrance exam (this is a noun, so doesn’t fit the game, but I wanted to mention it anyway as I think it’s interesting how the word ‘ronin’ (a masterless samurai) has taken on a new meaning in the modern world).

These were all great ideas, but I was determined to find something a bit special this week. In the end, by complete chance, I came across something which I decided to write about…

六根清浄 / ろっこんしょうじょう

(rokkon shojo)

It’s amazing what you can find on the Internet! As I was looking up the suggestions above and searching around for more ideas this week, I somehow, quite randomly stumbled upon this phrase: 六根清浄 (ろっこんしょうじょう / rokkon shojo). The dictionary defined this as “purification of the six roots of perception”, which was a bit cryptic, but I guessed it must have something to do with Buddhism, so I Googled some more.

I found the answers I was looking for over on one of my favourite blogs, BudgetTrouble.com. Apparently ‘rokkon shojo’ is a common expression often repeated while climbing a mountain, especially Mount Fuji. ‘Rokkon’ (六根) means ‘six senses’ (i.e. seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and conciousness). ‘Shojo’ (清浄) means ‘purification’. So, the phrase refers to purifying your heart of all the bad stuff (desire, anger, fear, depression, etc.) that comes from what we take in via the six senses.

The harder the climb, the purer your heart can become! It is also apparently believed that climbing at night helps to purify you even more, and that as you reach the top and the sun rises you will be purified.

Sunrise near the summit of Mt. Fuji

Sunrise near the summit of Mt. Fuji

(Image source)

 The concept of ‘rokkon shojo’ is similar to what the Yamabushi (山伏), or mountain hermit priests, practice. These followers of the Shugendo (修験道) doctrine of Buddhism have a long tradition of solo mountain dwelling, enduring the elements and contemplating nature. As far as I understand it, Shugendo is concerned with achieving enlightenment through the understanding of the relationship between humanity and nature, and this is done through mountain-dwelling.

Shugendō practitioners in the mountains of Kumano, Mie

Shugendō practitioners in the mountains of Kumano, Mie

(Image source)

I haven’t climbed Mount Fuji yet, nor have I climbed any other mountains (unless Yamadera counts), but when I do (and I do mean ‘when’, not ‘if’) I will try to remember to repeat ‘rokkon shojo’ to myself as I climb. I like the idea of mountain climbing being something quite spiritual, but I suspect with the number of people who climb Mount Fuji I might find more inner peace climbing another mountain!


Next week will be the last post of the series, and will be about a word or phrase beginning with ‘wa’ (わ), so please leave your suggestions below. The word can be a verb, adjective or expression (slang and dialect are fine too!), but no nouns please! I look forward to reading your ideas! (*^_^)v

Word of the Week 2014

4 thoughts on “Word of the Week: 六根清浄

  1. ‘ve really enjoyed this series and look forward to the finale next week. Here are a few ideas for you.

    Wagamama (わがまま) A term meaning spoiled and/or selfish
    Wayousecchu (和洋折衷) A phrases meaning harmonization of Japanese traditions with western practicality
    Wafu (和風) Japanese style


  2. It’s almost the end of the year 2014. Let me introduce one of the popular proverb in Japan sometimes used in Nengajo(New Year greeting card)
    『笑う門には福来る』(warau kado ni wa fuku kitaru)

    In this case, 門means not gate, but home or family. 福means fortune.

    In English,”Fortune comes in by a merry gate”,or”Good fortune and happiness will come to the home of those who smile”


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