On December 5, Shiraume Dormitory―which houses young women studying to become preschool teachers―commemorated its 40th anniversary by holding a ceremony in the Home of the Parent. Also regarded as concluding the 100th anniversary year of Tenrikyo’s social welfare activities, the ceremony was attended by about 700 people including current and former students of the dormitory, which is managed by Tenrikyo Preschool Teachers Nurturing Committee affiliated with the Social Welfare Section of the Mission Department.
The dormitory was opened in 1971, at a time when preschool teachers were in short supply nationwide. Its students, chosen as scholarship recipients from applicants from Yoboku families, cultivate their faith in Tenrikyo during two years of dormitory life while acquiring necessary knowledge and skills to become preschool teachers at a designated training school in Nara City. A lot of the graduates have contributed to child welfare activities by working in Tenrikyo’s child welfare facilities in many parts of Japan.
Prior to the commemorative ceremony, the participants performed a thanksgiving service in the East Worship Hall, where the Shinbashira subsequently delivered his address.
He began by saying, “What we as the children of the path have to convey to children is the sense of happiness of the Joyous Life, which is in accord with Oyasama’s intention.” He then continued: “I would like you, who think of yourselves as Yoboku preschool teachers, to show people around you your strong determination and efforts to draw even one or two steps closer to Oyasama’s Divine Model. I hope that you also strive to help them further gain intimacy with the Divine Model by showing them an example of your sincere and earnest attitude in seeking the path.”
He went on to cite anecdote no. 29, “Three Treasures,” which contains Oyasama’s words concerning “early rising, honesty, and work.” “The bottom line of this story is that Izo Iburi actually carried out this teaching for the rest of his life,” he said, stressing: “It won’t do to tell people how amazing Oyasama’s teachings are if we live in a way far removed from them. For those of us who have been drawn to the path and are expected to serve as Yoboku, it is essential to make an honest effort to live in complete harmony with the divine intention with our sights fixed on what runs deep in the Divine Model, the parental love that desires to save all humankind, God’s children.”
Furthermore, he explained the importance of basing oneself on Oyasama’s intention of single-hearted salvation and helping one another in any situation. Referring to the attitude appropriate for those in nurturing positions, he quoted the verse that the first Shinbashira, Shinnosuke Nakayama, composed at the time of the opening of Tenri Yotokuin Children’s Home, “Loving children of others in the same way you love your own, please nurture them accordingly, the people of this path.” “What we need to bear in mind,” he said, “is the need to take it upon ourselves to seek the parental heart of Oyasama, who urges us to stand when we crawl and to walk when we stand while always paying close attention to our minds,” and added, “It is also crucial to have a humble mind that enables us to reflect on ourselves in the light of the teachings.”
The Shinbashira concluded by saying: “I would like you, as Yoboku who follow Oyasama’s path, to renew your resolve to conduct yourselves appropriately as the children of the path, not to mention as preschool teachers. . . . I hope that the daily efforts you make to nurture children and develop yourselves based on the teachings will give you a sense of pride and joy at being Yoboku preschool teachers, who embody the founding spirit of Shiraume Dormitory.”
The participants then moved to the Dining Halls 2 and 3, where the commemorative ceremony and a reception were held. At the ceremony, Rev. Uzo Takami, chairman of the committee, said in his speech: “Since the environment surrounding children is not necessarily desirable, expectations for Yoboku preschool teachers have increased among people inside and outside the Tenrikyo community. I want this gathering to serve as a good opportunity to continue promoting Tenrikyo’s welfare activities.” After a few more speeches were given by other distinguished guests, the alumni association presented a commemorative gift to the dormitory.