The High School Division of the Students Training Course was held at the Home of the Parent from August 9 through 15 with a total of 1,405 participants from all over Japan. Following the format used in previous years, the students were divided into groups according to the number of times they had participated in the course, with first-time participants subdivided into sophomores, juniors, and seniors and second-time participants into juniors and seniors. The participants, carrying their luggage, arrived at their dormitories to check in. In their rooms, they got to know their fellow group members, with whom they would be spending the next seven days.
At the opening ceremony held in Dining Hall 2 on the afternoon of day one, Honbu-in Motoyoshi Tomimatsu gave an opening address. He said: “God the Parent and Oyasama have drawn forth each and every one of you to Jiba and prepared messages for each of you. I would like you to proactively participate in this course’s activities so that you can find out what those messages are.” Next, Student Advisory Committee Chairman Tadakazu Nishiura delivered his address to welcome all participants. He then introduced the staff members to the participants. This year, the course was supported by a total of 703 staff members. After the opening ceremony, the participants and staff members assembled in the East and South Worship Halls for a prayer service.
The course went into full swing on the 10th. Each day began with the morning service at the Main Sanctuary. Students participated in classes led by their homeroom instructors, which included lectures, small-group discussions, and group presentations. They also practiced the dance and musical instruments for the service, and dedicated themselves in efforts of hinokishin.
Third-time participants attended classes to practice the hand movements for the service dance in preparation for the highlight of their program, which was to perform the entire service dance on the 14th. Some of them made full use of their time by practicing the service dance with classmates whenever they found some free time.
During the training course, time was also allotted to allow participants to attend the Besseki lectures. A total of 435 participants attended the Besseki lectures, of whom 158 were first-timers.
The main events for each class varied. On the 12th, an event called “The Path of Our Predecessors” was organized for second-time participants. This year, their walk across the Jusan Pass was canceled at the last minute due to the heavy rain that had fallen on the previous night, which was brought by the approach of typhoon Dianmu. In the morning, the participants went by bus to Takayasu Grand Church in Osaka and listened to a lecture about the footsteps of Rev. Kichitaro Matsumura, the first head minister of Takayasu Grand Church. Then they went to Nara Prefecture Water Treatment Plant, from where they walked back to Jiba. The weather was overcast and much cooler than the day before, thus reducing concern about the participants suffering from heat stroke. Some of the participants picked up trash as they walked back to Jiba in order to express their gratitude to God the Parent for the blessings they had been shown. Past one o’clock, the participants started arriving at their final destination, the Main Sanctuary.
On the afternoon of the 13th, first-time seniors participated in an event called “Let’s visit a church.” The aim of this event was to have participants visit a Tenrikyo church, engage in hinokishin, and feel more comfortable about visiting the church they are affiliated with. A total of 116 first-time seniors were divided into three groups, which visited either Shikinori, Akitsu, or Yagi grand churches. Each group listened to a lecture given by the head minister of the grand church they visited and then cleaned windows and pulled weeds on the church premises as hinokishin.
On the same day, all seniors had an opportunity to spread the name of God the Parent by singing the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo while walking down streets. This year, a total of 406 students participated in this activity, which was added to the curriculum for the first time last year.
At 3:30 P.M., groups of the third-time participants arrived at JR Nara Station and the area in front of Nara Prefectural Government Office. With one student holding a banner bearing the name of God and another playing the wooden clappers at the front of each group, participants walked down the main streets in Nara City while singing the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo. There were many tourists from all over Japan as well as from overseas since it was in the middle of summer vacation and, this year, events commemorating the 1,300th anniversary of Nara Heijo-kyo Capital are being held at various locations throughout the city and attracting many tourists. One of the participants, Mika Takigawa, said: “I felt nervous throughout the activity, but after we were done singing and walking, I felt refreshed. One of our group members uses a wheelchair, so the members of my group took turns pushing the wheelchair. I am so happy that our minds were united while we were spreading the name of God.”
On the 14th, all third-time participants assembled in Dining Hall 2 to perform the service dance, which was the culmination of their participation in the Students Training Course for three consecutive years. At 7:20 A,M., with the sharp sound of the signal block resonating in the dining hall, all third-time participants started singing the Songs for the Service in unison and performed the service dance with their minds united as one. Their group’s male and female counselors and other staff members joined them in the dance. Afterwards, a participant named Yuichiro Yoshii said: “When I was small, I was diagnosed with a serious illness, and a doctor told my parents that I might never be able to walk. But because of the seeds of sincerity my parents had sown, I received marvelous blessings from God. I performed the service dance with gratitude for all of the experiences I have had over the last three years. While I danced, thoughts of my friends and counselors and the earnest devotion of my parents crossed in my mind. With my parents as my role models, I would like to join them in walking the path of helping others be saved.”
On the morning of the 15th, the closing ceremony was held in Dining Hall 2. Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Yoshitaro Ueda presented certificates of completion to representatives of the sophomores, juniors, and seniors. He then delivered an address in which he commended the efforts the participants had made in learning the teachings throughout the course. At the conclusion of the closing ceremony, the participants danced the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo. After the ceremony, the participants returned to their dormitories one last time, where they spent their last minutes with their classmates and staff members before departing with their certificates in their hands.