On September 25, Hinokishin School marked its 30th anniversary by holding a commemorative event in Dining Hall 3. Honored by the presence of the Shinbashira, the ceremonial portion of the event drew 734 people including those who had participated in courses organized by the school. In addition to reconfirming the meaning of hinokishin, participants resolved to enhance their respective hinokishin activities.
The school was launched 30 years ago against the backdrop of a growing interest in social welfare in the midst of high economic growth that Japanese society was experiencing. As the society was becoming prosperous, its aging population began to be regarded as an issue, and worryingly there was a rapid rise in the number of people with emotional problems. Seeking to provide followers with an opportunity to acquire knowledge and techniques useful for addressing those social problems, the school started with a basic course in March 1980. In September of the same year, it began to provide specialized courses on senior care and on aftercare for people with mental disabilities.
Over the years, the school has diversified its range of specialized courses to meet contemporary social needs. It has drawn a total of about 80,000 participants, many of whom have played crucial roles in conducting hinokishin activities and salvation work in their local communities.
In April this year, the school made a revision to its participation process, which had previously required participants to complete the basic course before attending a specialized course. With the removal of that requirement, the school now offers specialized seminars intended for all Yoboku.
The 30th anniversary ceremony began with an opening address delivered by Mission Department Head Motoyoshi Tomimatsu. After touching on the history behind the school’s establishment, he said: “Modern society is experiencing more serious social problems than it ever did. In recent years, some of the criminal cases that have received media coverage seem to be attributable to the disintegration of the family, where the husband-wife, parent-child, and other family ties are broken.”
Rev. Tomimatsu went on to say: “It is important for us Tenrikyo followers to clearly acknowledge those problems and engage in salvation work. . . . We will make determined efforts to enrich the content of Hinokishin School so that it can give a boost to sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and helping people be saved.”
The Shinbashira then took the lectern to deliver an address. He started with words of appreciation to those who had been involved in organizing Hino-kishin School activities over the past 30 years.
After noting the diverse programs the school offers, he stated: “Given the variety of problems faced by society today, there will be an increasing necessity for us to learn and acquire specialized knowledge and skills in various areas in order to promote hinokishin activities that can help with salvation work. . . . Taking that into account, I strongly hope that you take to heart the true meaning of hinokishin and maintain the spirit of single-heartedness with God as you run the program.”
He further said, “Volunteer activities meant for the general good are wonderful things, but we need to be aware that they are different in nature from hinokishin activities.” After quoting a passage from Chapter 8 of The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, entitled “On the Way to the Final Goal,” the Shinbashira made clear that hinokishin is an action derived from a sense of gratitude toward God the Parent. He went on to say: “We need to base ourselves not on how to enhance our social reputation but on how we can have God the Parent accept our joy and gratitude in repaying our indebtedness. No matter how knowledgeable and skillful we may be in specialized areas, our actions cannot be referred to as hinokishin if they are not grounded on the mind of single-heartedness with God―the mind that helps ensure that our thoughts are in accord with Oyasama’s teachings. Without the spirit of single-heartedness, our actions would be unable to reflect the bliss of the Joyous Life taught by Oyasama to people in the world.”
The Shinbashira then spoke about the spirit of single-heartedness with God while referring to Oyasama’s Divine Model and the paths that Shuji, Kokan, and early followers took. “Following the Divine Model while maintaining Oyasama’s teachings as the standard for decision making is the only way leading to the Joyous Life,” he said, adding, “Even though we know that we would eventually come to a dead end if we focused on doing things in a self-serving way, it is sometimes the case that we end up putting away Oyasama’s Divine Model and falling into worldly common ways.”
Toward the end of his address, he commented on the current Hinokishin School program: “The new program makes it more accessible for people to acquire specialized knowledge and skills than before. It will be able to cover a wider range of areas and increase the number of participants. However, I am a little concerned, perhaps needlessly, that the meaning of hinokishin―of which the former basic course sought to ensure a thorough understanding―might be overlooked due to the integration of the basic and specialized courses and might end up becoming secondary to the worldly common thinking and reasoning. I believe my concern will prove unfounded if you make the most of the 30th anniversary and continue improving the program while organizing seminars appropriate for the present time.”
After a film presentation on the 30-year history of the school, a representative member of the steering committee made a pledge to further develop and enrich the content of the program.
The latter portion of the commemorative event started with an address delivered by Steering Committee Chairman Yoshihiko Shirokihara, who discussed the future outlook for Hinokishin School. He said: “Japan is about to become an unprecedented aging society and continues to face a decrease in the number of members in the household. In addition, more and more people will choose to remain unmarried. Such a society craves the spirit of mutual help and of doing things for others. . . . Hinokishin School will continue to increase its importance in terms of assisting in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and in salvation work.”
With regard to helping energize hinokishin activities and salvation work in local communities, Chairman Shirokihara said: “Hinokishin activities that followers engage in vary from region to region. In addition to providing seminars that accommodate the needs of the time, we are looking for opportunities to conduct the Hinokishin School activities at the level of directly supervised churches and dioceses so that we can listen to the locals and meet their needs.”
Ms. Chin Mei-ling, a social commentator, then gave a commemorative lecture entitled “From Parents to Children and Grandchildren: Something Precious That Has Never Changed with the Times.” She spoke about the unchanging importance of the family in society and how showing consideration for others should be the foundation of any interpersonal relationship. Under the theme “Salvation work can bring a settling to families,” a panel discussion then took place, where Rev. Masataka Izutsu, former head minister of Kuroishi Branch Church, and Mrs. Mariko Matsuo, wife of the head minister of Kako Grand Church, shared their opinions about faith-based relationships between husbands and wives as well as between parents and children.