Tens of thousands of people, including groups of followers and families from around the country as well as many members of the Diet, returned to the Home of the Parent for this traditional event that has been held since the days when Oyasama was physically present. Blessed with fine weather, over 87,000 people, approximately 10,000 more than last year, attended the event.
On each of the three days, the entrance gates opened at 10:00 a.m. Many offered their first prayers of the new year at the Main Sanctuary before making their way to the gates. After being treated to a celebratory sip of sake at the gates, visitors continued on to one of the six festival sites, which were set up indoors and in large tents outdoors.
About 41,000 kilograms (45 U.S. tons) of rice cakes had been offered at the Main Sanctuary during the first three days of January and were later cut into small pieces. People smacked their lips over the zoni—clear broth containing roasted rice cakes and some greens—and smiles stretched across their faces. They enjoyed a happy family togetherness at the Home of the Parent through this New Year’s event.
Attending to various hinokishin tasks at the festival sites—such as roasting rice cakes, carrying roasted rice cakes to festival sites, ushering visitors to tables, and serving zoni—were approximately 5,000 volunteers, including Church Headquarters’ resident staff members, head ministers of directly supervised churches, Church Headquarters’ staff members, students of Shuyoka (the Spiritual Development Course) and Tenrikyo schools, and members of the Students Sechi Festival Hinokishin Corps.