The High School Division of the Students Training Course was held at the Home of the Parent from August 9 through 15. This year, 652 male and 803 female high school students (a total of 1,455 participants) attended the course from all parts of Japan to study the teachings, reflect upon themselves, and deepen their faith by sharing their feelings and thoughts with one another.
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 so that they could benefit from the curriculum most suited for their stage on the journey of faith.
In addition, first-time participants were subdivided into groups for sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and second-time participants were subdivided into juniors and seniors. The curriculum for sophomores was designed to give them an opportunity to learn the basic teachings; the curriculum for juniors aimed at helping them heighten their awareness of being Yoboku or future Yoboku; and the curriculum for seniors was intended to encourage them to start practicing their faith as new Yoboku.
Each group was staffed with a homeroom instructor as well as a male and a female counselor so that the staff members could pay close attention to the needs of their students and provide adequate care and support both at school and in the dormitories.
At the opening ceremony, held in Dining Hall 2 on the afternoon of August 9, Honbu-in Motoyoshi Tomimatsu gave the opening address, in which he urged the students to approach the training course in a proper frame of mind. Student Advisory Committee Chairman Tadakazu Nishiura then delivered his address and introduced the staff members to the participants. This year, the course was supported by a total of 771 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. In addition to attending the morning and evening services daily, they listened to lectures delivered by their homeroom instructors, practiced the dance and musical instruments for the Service, and dedicated themselves in efforts of hinokishin, or selfless and thankful action. After the evening service, dormitory activities such as “Faith Discussion Groups” and “Indoor Olympics” enabled the students to deepen their faith and friendships with one another under the guidance of their counselors. Third-time participants started practicing the Teodori, the Dance with Hand Movements, in preparation for the highlight of their curriculum, which was to dance the entire Teodori on the night of the 13th.
On the 11th, third-time participants enjoyed an activity called “Hearty Interaction.” First, they visited a park area in front of the ancient Ishibutai Burial Mound in Asuka. The lush green countryside helped them relax and enjoy games and group work designed to enable them to become better acquainted with one another. Then the participants went to Oka Grand Church to have dinner, attend the evening service, and enjoy a variety of entertainment provided by some of their fellow participants.
The event called “The Path of Our Predecessors–Crossing the Jusan Pass” was organized on the 12th for second-time participants. In 1853, Oyasama’s youngest daughter, Kokan, crossed the Jusan Pass to spread the name of God the Parent in the city of Naniwa, now Osaka, when she was 17. The students were all about the same age as Kokan was. At 7:30 A.M., all participants joined together to perform a prayer service in the East Worship Hall before getting on buses bound for Takayasu Grand Church in Osaka. From there, the participants started walking toward the Jusan Pass. The temperature during the day reached a sweltering 36ºC (96.8ºF). Helping and encouraging one another, the main pack climbed the steep hills for about two hours and finally reached the Jusan Pass, located near the border of Osaka and Nara. After taking a short break, they treaded on downhill and reached Heguri-Nishi Elementary School. The students enjoyed their lunch there before buses took them to Nara Prefecture Water Treatment Plant, from where they continued their walk to Tenri. The students reached their final destination, the Main Sanctuary, around 4:00 P.M. Slightly tanned from the walk, the faces of the participants showed both fatigue and a sense of accomplishment.
On the 13th, first-time sophomores participated in an event called “Run and Fun in Unity of Mind,” where they cooperated and worked together in conducting various games. On the same day, first-time juniors visited the birthplace of Oyasama by walking down “Yamanobe no Michi”–said to be the oldest road in Japan–in an event called “Walk Yamanobe.” First-time seniors visited Tenrikyo Doyusha Publishing Company to participate in the production of a talk show program called “Talk in Doyusha” and learn about the work of spreading the teachings through the press, telecommunications, and multimedia.
Toward the end of the course, on the evening of the 13th, all third-time participants assembled at Dining Hall 2 and danced the Teodori to express their gratitude to God the Parent for the blessings they had received over the past three years as well as their resolution to take a new step toward the future. At 8:00 P.M. sharp, a signal block resonated in the dining hall. All the students danced and sang spiritedly in unity of mind while powerful vocals from counselors at the back of the room gave them an emotional lift.
On the 14th, a faith experience speech rally was held. Listening intently to the speeches given by fellow participants, many students were moved to tears.
During the training course, time was allotted for attending the Besseki lectures, and 472 students including 172 first-timers listened to the lectures. Meanwhile, the other participants attended Tenrikyo Basics Course or dedicated themselves in acts of hinokishin, such as cleaning the artificial turf used during the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba.
On the morning of the 15th, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi delivered his address at the closing ceremony. He told the students, “I want you to cherish your memories of the past week.” The participants and staff members concluded the course by performing the Yorozuyo to express their gratitude for the blessings that enabled them to complete the course in good health. Following the closing ceremony, participants received their certificates of completion from their lecturers or counselors. Then they bid emotional farewells, exchanging hugs with friends and staff members.