The annual Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba was held between July 26 and August 4 under the theme “Gratitude, Joy, hinokishin.” During this 10-day period, more than 270,000 children and adult leaders, including 743 from 12 overseas countries, returned to the Home of the Parent to enjoy a wide variety of attractions designed to be both educational and entertaining.
Each day (except July 26) started off with great numbers of children assembling in the Main Sanctuary to attend the “Morning Service” event at 8:00 A.M. After leading them in the performance of the seated service, the Shinbashira, who is also president of the Boys and Girls Association, spoke about the teachings in a way that the boys and girls could easily understand. Explaining that the Children’s Pilgrimage was begun in 1954 under the name “Children’s hinokishin Pilgrimage to Jiba,” he emphasized that earth-carrying hinokishin had been an important aspect of the pilgrimage throughout its half-century history. He told the children that this year’s earth-carrying hinokishin would be conducted at the site for the westward expansion of the Sanctuary precincts, where 20 thousand square meters of earth have already been carried during the past year plus in an effort to raise the ground level on the west side of the precincts by as much as four meters. He then asked the children how many years they thought it would take for one person carrying five loads per day to move that much earth. Having guessed “30 years” or “50 years,” they were astonished to hear that the calculations worked out to be about 2,200 years. The Shinbashira pointed out: “So, you see, what one person could never finish in a lifetime was actually able to be accomplished in just one year because a great number of people joined together in getting it done. The earth-carrying hinokishin site always reminds me that what we can do as individuals may be very limited but when we join hands and work together toward a shared goal we can accomplish anything.”
The Shinbashira continued: “God the Parent created us human beings to enjoy seeing us lead our lives in harmony with others and help one another. That means that the purpose of our lives is to lead the Joyous Life by getting along with one another and doing what we can to help one another. Admittedly, it may take a long time before all people in the world can lead the Joyous Life together, but what is important is for everyone to keep making steady efforts to realize that goal. For you boys and girls, I would suggest that you start off with the people nearest you. Getting along with your brothers and sisters as well as your friends and doing whatever you can to help them is a good start. Making yourself useful to your parents is also a big step in the right direction. The example you set by helping others will influence the people around you and bring about a joyous atmosphere in your family, school, and community. Please try to learn the teachings of God the Parent little by little, because they will teach you how to be a person who can always help others and get along with everyone.”
Organized for the children’s entertainment were a variety of thrills and adventures such as the “House of Horrors,” “Miracle Adventures,” and “Ninja Village” as well as a theatrical performance entitled “The Legend of Octo Island,” a musical production of “Pinocchio,” and a variety show featuring dance, music, comedy, and magic. Also held were athletic competitions such as the “Children’s Olympics” and a martial arts tournament for children learning judo, karate, and kendo. Several swimming pools as well as a number of playgrounds equipped with a variety of entertaining gadgets and gizmos were also provided for the children’s enjoyment.
The “Oyasato-yakata Lecture” gave the participants a chance to hear about Oyasama’s Divine Model and the truth of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed,” while the “Service Practice Classroom” enabled them to practice the dance and musical instruments for the service. In the “Exhibition of Children’s Crafts,” many drawings, paintings, handicraft items, works of calligraphy, and other items were displayed.
The children belonging to fife and drum corps took part in contests and gave performances to show God the Parent and Oyasama the accomplishments they had attained during the past year. This year, a record-setting 397 bands comprising approximately 16,000 members participated in these events. These fife and drum corps also marched in the evening “Oyasato Parade,” which is always one of the highlights of the children’s stay in the Home of the Parent during this midsummer festival.
Each year, the 10-day event is supported by thousands of hinokishin volunteers. In addition to students attending the various schools in the Home of the Parent, many students from schools outside Tenri sowed seeds of sincerity at Jiba by serving as members of the Students hinokishin Corps. In addition, 3,222 junior high school students chose to participate in the Children’s Pilgrimage as members of the Boys and Girls Association hinokishin Corps or the Wakagi Ojiba hinokishin Corps, serving ice-cold tea to the children and helping to run the attractions and other programs.