On May 17, Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters in Taiwan, located in Taipei and led by Bishop Yoshiaki Mihama, organized a gathering for followers in eastern Taiwan. The gathering was held at Hualien Church, located in the eastern coastal city of Hualien.
In contrast to the western part of the country, where major cities are concentrated, eastern Taiwan is known for its rich natural environment, surrounded by the sea and mountains. Cities such as Hualien and Taitung are also well known for their large populations of indigenous Taiwanese.
It was about 40 years ago that Tenrikyo started to spread to eastern Taiwan, primarily through the Amis, an indigenous tribe of Taiwan. A mission station subsequently came to be established under the direct supervision of the mission headquarters, and the number of Yoboku and followers has been gradually increasing in several church affiliations.
However, because of the long distance from Taipei, it has not been easy for the followers to participate in events at the mission headquarters or to organize events in the area. The convention was thus held in order to strengthen the network among the followers in the eastern part of Taiwan. It was scheduled to take place on the same date as the Hualien District’s Hinokishin Day.
In the morning the participants cleaned up local parks and nearby beaches in Hualien. The gathering drew 73 people, which was more than double the usual number of Hinokishin Day participants in the area. Some of the participants came all the way from Taitung, which is four hours away from Hualien.
In the afternoon the participants moved to Hualien Church, the only Tenrikyo church in eastern Taiwan. After Bishop Mihama made opening remarks, the participants watched a video entitled the “Four Seasons of Oyasato,” which was translated into and narrated in Chinese. The video was followed by a lecture entitled “Toward the 100th Anniversary of Tenrikyo Women’s Association,” which was delivered by Mrs. Yasue Mihama, the chairwoman of the Taiwan Chapter of the Women’s Association. Later, the participants heard an introduction to the activities of the Young Men’s Association, Women’s Association, Boys and Girls Association, Students Association, and younger members of the Women’s Association.
“Some young people said that they had never participated in Tenrikyo’s events before,” says Rev. Minoru Higashihara, 44, who is the head minister of Hualien Church. “I would like to invite more and more people, men and women of all ages, to the events we hold in this area.”