From April 20 to 21, Tenrikyo Overseas Department sponsored the fourth Oyasato Junior Spring Gathering in the Home of the Parent, drawing 27 participants including children and adult leaders from three countries—namely, Thailand, the Philippines, and Australia.
This gathering was initially launched in 1996 to provide an opportunity to experience something of the atmosphere of the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba especially for children in Southeast Asia and Oceania, who have difficulties in taking a long vacation to return to Jiba during the Japanese summer season. The previous gathering was held ten years ago in the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.
The event included a variety of activities and attractions. On the first day, the children attended “educational and training activities,” such as a picture-story show—which is intended to explain the “three promises” for the children: (1) Savor the joy of living; (2) Take good care of things; and (3) Help one another—and the practice of the hand movements for the service. Ian Aguilar, a 15-year-old boy from the Philippines, said: “The atmosphere of Jiba is very nice. I’m glad to be able to properly learn how to perform the seated service.” A number of “entertainment activities” were also provided during this gathering by staff members of the Boys and Girls Association Headquarters.
On the second day, the children first engaged in corridor-cleaning hinokishin and worked up a good sweat. They cleaned the corridor from the East Worship Hall to the Foundress’ Sanctuary. They, then, participated in “Children’s Indoor Olympics” in East Right Wing 4 of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex. This was followed by the practice of the musical instruments for the service, conducted in English and Thai.
Mrs. Akemi Cade, who joined the gathering from Australia with her one- and four-year-old sons, said, “It was very hard to travel with my two children by plane, but the Oyasato Junior Spring Gathering made it all worthwhile, because my children had precious experiences here in Jiba.”
Rev. Nobuya Noguchi, head of Tenrikyo Mission Center in Thailand, commented: “Children from overseas countries have few chances to return to Jiba, let alone sow seeds of sincerity at Jiba. I believe, therefore, that hinokishin activities during this gathering provided very meaningful opportunities for them to savor the joy of faith.”