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Some 20,000 People Express Their Gratitude and Bid Farewell to the Third Shinbashira at His Funeral

On July 6, the third Shinbashiraʼs funeral was held in Kitaoji-jokojo (the bus loading and unloading area, just east of Tenri Kyoko Gakuen High School, on the north side of Kitaoji boulevard) in the Home of the Parent, drawing more than 20,000 people who came to pay their last respects out of a deep appreciation and affinity for him. The third Shinbashira had not only provided followers with parental care and guidance as a parent of the path but also been acquainted with many people in various quarters as the leader of the Tenrikyo community.

The funeral venue included two large marquees. In the main marquee, the altar was prepared with two floral tributes sent from Prince Hitachi and Prince Mikasa—members of the Japanese Imperial Family—placed on both sides. In addition, two 320-inch TV screens and about 2,700 folding benches were installed in the marquee with a capacity of 10,000 people. The other marquee, which had a capacity of 4,000 people, was set up with approximately 1,000 folding benches and two 210-inch TV screens. There were also about 350 additional folding benches outside the marquees.

Led by Honbu-in Zensuke Nakata and Successor-designate Daisuke Nakayama, who were respectively holding a photograph of the third Shinbashira and an urn wrapped in a white cloth, the Shinbashira left his residence with his wife at 11:30 a.m. for the funeral venue. After they arrived at the venue to the accompaniment of gagaku music, the third Shinbashiraʼs photograph and urn were placed on the altar as all present stood in silence as a mark of respect.

The funeral ceremony started when the officiating ministers entered the venue. After the food offerings were placed on the altar, the vice officiant offered his prayer, in which he spoke about how the third Shinbashira had led the Tenrikyo community while promoting the enhancement of church substance and carrying out construction projects in the Home of the Parent and, even after his retirement from the position of the Shinbashira in 1998, continued to pay visits to local churches. The vice officiant went on to say in the prayer that followers had sought to understand Godʼs intention behind the former Shinbashiraʼs passing—which occurred around the midway point of the pre-anniversary season—and to enhance their awareness of being Oyasamaʼs instruments. He then pledged, on behalf of the followers, to work tirelessly for world salvation with an ever stronger sense of commitment.

Honbu-in Masahiko Iburi, who served as chief officiant, then read the farewell prayer, where he said that the third Shinbashira’s remains were to be laid to rest in Toyoda-sansha Columbarium. He went on to express his hope that the third Shinbashira’s soul, which had returned to God, would be reborn in this world so that children of the path would once again be instructed and guided by the same parental heart in the future.

Sacred branches were then offered by the Shinbashira, his wife, Successor-designate Daisuke Nakayama, and other family members. Several distinguished guests also offered sacred branches. From among 379 condolatory telegrams received, a few were read aloud—notably one from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

This was followed by a eulogy delivered by Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Yoshitaro Ueda, who started by outlining the footsteps of the third Shinbashira. Referring to his visits to over 2,000 churches and mission facilities inside and outside the country, Director-in-Chief Ueda described the way the third Shinbashira had interacted with followers. He said that they had cherished their memories with the third Shinbashira as their lifelong treasure and spiritual nourishment.

“Instead of grieving over your passing for too long,” Director-in-Chief Ueda stressed, “we will, based on your own instructions, make an effort to understand God’s intention behind what has happened and make use of the knot shown to us, thereby repaying our indebtedness to God.” He concluded his words by pledging, “In order that our pre-anniversary activities will bear fruit, all churches will strive to work in a way that is suitable for training centers for single-hearted salvation, and all Yoboku will make a personal effort in salvation work in the hope of bringing reassurance and delight to the third Shinbashira.”

Next, Director-in-Chief of Religious Affairs Hiroaki Yamazawa, who was in charge of the ceremony, delivered words of appreciation to those in attendance. He said: “We are not just going to sit around and cry. Carrying the third Shinbashira’s intention in our mind, we would like to continue to make strides toward world salvation without halting, in the belief that that is the best way to make repayment for what the third Shinbashira did for us.”

Lastly, those assembled at the venue offered sacred branches to bid a final farewell to the third Shinbashira. With the completion of all proceedings, the family members departed for Toyoda-sansha Columbarium shortly after 2:00 p.m..

An enshrinement ceremony for the third Shinbashira was held on August 7 at the Memorial Hall of Church Headquarters, following a private memorial service.

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