The opening ceremony for the 2009 Oyasato Seminar―a summer program geared toward transmitting the faith to mainly high-school-age participants who are to shoulder the tasks of the overseas mission―was held in the ninth-floor assembly hall of Moya 38 on July 10. At the ceremony, Overseas Department Head Yoichiro Miyamori gave an address and encouraged the participants, saying: “You can learn the teachings of the path in many different places in the world. However, the Oyasato Seminar is held only here at Jiba, the Home of the Parent. I would like you to give thought to the reasons for holding the seminar here, ponder over the blessings provided by Oyasama, who lives here, and make efforts to feel Her profound parental love during the seminar.” After the opening ceremony, participants and staff members conducted a prayer service in the South Worship Hall, led by Rev. Miyamori.
The Oyasato Seminar was first launched in 1984 as a program conducted in English, and the courses in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Korean were added in later years. Attending the opening ceremony were 56 participants from 10 countries and regions―the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Canada, Australia, the U.K., Brazil, Taiwan, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico. There were a total of 26 participants in the English Courses: 16 in Course I (counselors: Louise Inafuku and Michael Yukimoto) and 10 in Course III (counselors: Blayne Mima and Joyce Yagi). The Korean course did not start until August 5 due to a different school calendar in South Korea that makes it impossible for the students to return to Jiba in early July.
Participants in the Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese courses and English Course I attended classes covering the basic teachings and practiced the dance and the musical instruments for the service. The main aim of the first half of the Oyasato Seminar is to have participants become immersed in the teachings and gain intimacy with Oyasama’s Divine Model. On July 16, participants in the Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese courses crossed the Jusan Pass together. Kokan, Oyasama’s youngest daughter, crossed the pass to reach Osaka and spread the divine name “Tenri-O-no-Mikoto” for the first time in the history of Tenrikyo when she was their age. The participants danced the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo in front of the monument that was erected on the pass.
In the meantime, English Course III participants engaged in hinokishin standing guard at the Main Sanctuary with members of the Precincts Section of Church Headquarters. They were able to see firsthand how many people actually came to worship at the Main Sanctuary during the night. After attending their ninth and last Besseki lecture on July 11, all 10 participants received the precious truth of the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, on July 15.
The second half of the Oyasato Seminar, however, turned out to be different from previous years. As some of the participants in English Course I were confirmed to be infected with the new H1N1 influenza, the programs and arrangements for the rest of the seminar had to be changed. Most notably, all courses had to cancel their mission caravans―the highlight of the second half in which participants would have engaged in door-to-door missionary work―in order not to spread the influenza outside the seminar group. Despite the sudden change of the programs and the limited range of activities, the students and the staff members maintained high spirits by making the most of what they could do under the circumstances. The five courses were able to conduct their closing ceremony together on July 24 in the third-floor assembly hall of Tenrikyo Language Institute.
The Korean course was held between August 5 and 14 with 19 participants. During the first half of the seminar, the participants attended classes in the mornings covering the basic teachings, and practiced the dance and the musical instruments for the service in the afternoons. During the second half, the participants engaged in hinokishin standing guard at the Main Sanctuary with members of the Precincts Section of Church Headquarters. On the 12th, they walked from Takayasu Grand Church to Jiba, crossing the mountains in the midsummer heat just as many early followers did.