This year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba began on July 26 upon the conclusion of the July Monthly Service at Church Headquarters and came to a close on August 4. The theme for this year’s Children’s Pilgrimage was “Filled with Joy! Hinokishin!”
Tenrikyo Boys and Girls Association Headquarters’ activity guidelines this year being “Let us embody an attitude of hinokishin and nurture children who put the teachings into practice,” there was a push for adult leaders to implement hinokishin on a daily basis over several months leading up to the Children’s Pilgrimage. Children from all over the world participated in earth-carrying hinokishin and corridor-cleaning hinokishin that served as ways for them to sow seeds of sincerity. There were also a variety of recreational activities held in venues across the Home of the Parent.
The rainy season came to an end this year earlier than usual and there was a heat wave across Japan. The high temperature on the first day of the Children’s Pilgrimage reached 35°C (95°F). At 1:00 p.m., activities at each venue were launched simultaneously.
The Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba had its beginnings in 1954 as the “Children’s Hinokishin Pilgrimage to Jiba,” which was started out of a desire to afford children of the path the opportunity to carry even just one basket of earth. At the earth-carrying hinokishin venue, children and accompanying adults carried earth in straw baskets along a 250-meter (820-ft.) course. A total of 250 1.5-meter (5-ft.) wooden poles and 250 straw baskets measuring 50 centimeters square (20 in. square) were prepared. Further, 30 small plastic buckets were also prepared so younger children could participate as well.
Cheerful voices of children shouting “Ichi, ni, san, shi (One, two, three, four)” could be heard at the corridor-cleaning hinokishin site in the Sanctuary Corridor. After completing the activity, one child said, “Although I got all sweaty, it really felt good.” Escorting staff were also heard asking children if they were able to fully express their joy of being kept alive through their hinokishin. A total of 5,000 wiping cloths had been prepared on the opening day of the Children’s Pilgrimage.
This year marks the 40th anniversary since the establishment of the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps and there were more participants this year than average. Participants savored the joy of exerting themselves for others during the Children’s Pilgrimage while sharing living accommodations and internalizing a disciplined attitude. Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps and Wakagi Hinokishin Program participants alike cheerfully poured tea at sites throughout the Sanctuary precincts and activity venues. A total of 129 participants from nine countries and regions took part in the Overseas Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps this year.
After the evening service on July 26, fireworks lit up the sky to mark the start of the Oyasato Parade. Many brass bands and fife and drum bands participated. This year, a new parade float was debuted and three other redesigned floats were unveiled.
Further, pilgrimage groups from Brazil, Latin America (a joint group of pilgrims from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Venezuela), and Taiwan also made appearances in the Oyasato Parade on the night of July 26.
July 27 marked the first day of activities such as the “Morning Service” and offertory gagaku and fife and drum performances.
During the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, the high temperature in the Home of the Parent exceeded 30°C (86°F) every day. As a measure to maintain the health of participants and prevent heat stroke, first-aid stations with the full support of Ikoi-no-Ie Hospital were set up at 15 locations. Nurses from Ikoi-no-Ie Hospital as well as students from Tenri Nursing School and the recently established Tenri Health Care University were deployed at these first-aid stations.
Crowds at the Children’s Pilgrimage reached their peak during the weekend of July 28 and 29. Venues were filled with energetic and smiling children. The signboard at the reception desk for Children’s Pilgrimage activities noted that many of the venues were operating at full capacity.
The Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba came to a close on August 4. In the Oyasato Parade that night, fife and drum bands and bands from Tenri schools were joined by Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps members, nurses from Ikoi-no-Ie Hospital, and high school students and staff who had contributed their hinokishin during the Children’s Pilgrimage. The appearance of the marching band of Tenri Kyoko Gakuen High School marked the end of the Oyasato Parade and beginning of the “Finale” or closing ceremony, held in front of the Main Sanctuary.
Two representatives of the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps expressed their appreciation of being able to participate this year to the Shinbashira. This was followed by everyone singing this year’s theme song “Filled with Joy! Hinokishin!”
There was then an announcement saying how the former Shinbashira, Zenye Nakayama, celebrated his 80th birthday this past July 7. After the announcement, he said “I’d like to express my joy and gratitude” and proceeded to an a cappella rendition of the first verse of the Sayonara song. Members of the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps then presented the former Shinbashira with bouquets of flowers.
Everyone joined in singing the song from the second verse onward while waving pen-sized flashlights side to side to the music. Some participants wrapped their arms over each other’s shoulders and others sang with tears in their eyes. Another round of fireworks brought the 10-day event to a close.
A total of 222,718 people participated in this year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba.
Sources: Tenri jiho, August 5, 2012, p. 1; August 12, 2012, p. 1.