At the April 27 meeting of the Kanamekai (association comprising the head ministers of all directly supervised churches), Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi made an announcement that, in the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, prayer services will be performed at the Main Sanctuary at the request of pilgrimage groups. He also announced the plan to repaper the fusuma doors in the Foundress’ Sanctuary in preparation for the anniversary. Then, Oyasato Fusekomi Committee Chairman Hiroyoshi Shimamura, concurrently serving as head of the Construction and Maintenance Department, outlined some new plans for the construction and maintenance of the Sanctuary precincts.
Director-in-Chief Iburi began his announcement by saying, “During the year of Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary, the prayer service, if there is a request, will be performed every day–except the Service days–at 11:00 A.M., noon, and 4:00 P.M. at the Main Sanctuary with the inclusion of the wooden clappers.” This arrangement is modeled on that used at the time of the 110th Anniversary of Oyasama. The service at 4:00 P.M. will be performed in conjunction with the service for students of Tenri High School’s evening course, he added.
He also announced that a copy of the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service, would be given to each church as a commemorative gift, as was done on the occasion of the 110th Anniversary of Oyasama.
Concerning how local churches should conduct the spring grand service next January, he said that a decision had been made that a prayer be read in front of Oyasama’s shrine as well.
The fusuma doors in the Foundress’ Sanctuary are to be repapered and repaired between May 1 and September 4. Because of this, marriage ceremonies, which are usually held in the Foundress’ Sanctuary, will be conducted at the Main Sanctuary during this period, Director-in-Chief Iburi said.
Oyasato Fusekomi Committee Chairman Shimamura next took the podium. Referring to the lanterns offered by local churches, he said, “Presently, the lanterns are hung on the balconies of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex, but we have decided to change that.” Part of the reason for the change, he explained, was that the lanterns could not been hung on the upper floors of the buildings for safety reasons. He went on to say, “We are now planning to construct lantern stands like the ones that were formerly used.” The new lantern stands are planned to be installed in the newly expanded west Sanctuary precincts and the approach to it; the south Sanctuary precincts and both sides of the approach leading from Oyasato Boulevard through the South Gate; and the east Sanctuary precincts and the north side of Dining Hall 2.
Once the construction of the lantern stands is completed, it will be possible to hang 4,330 lanterns at one time. The lighting of the lanterns takes place on five occasions each year–namely, New Year’s Day, the Spring and Autumn Grand Services, the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service, and the period of the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba. Lanterns of directly supervised churches will be hung on every occasion whereas those of subordinate churches will be hung in turn based on a schedule to be discussed by the Precincts Section of Church Headquarters and directly supervised churches. Arrangements will be made to enable all 17,000 or so churches to offer their lanterns to be hung at least once a year. The construction of the lantern stands began in May and will be completed by the end of the year.
With regard to the building under construction just north of the Foundress’ Hall 3, Rev. Shimamura said that it was the “assembly hall for the head ministers attending the Monthly Service in the Main Sanctuary during the anniversary year.” Rev. Shimamura went on to say, “We are hoping to complete its roof before the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba,” and added that temporary restrooms, an office, and a corridor link to the existing buildings are to be built thereafter.
Furthermore, he disclosed that a modest-sized waiting room would be prepared in front of the elevator for the disabled on the west side of the corridor. Rev. Shimamura hopes that the room, which will also provide storage for wheelchairs, will be completed before the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba this summer.
Concerning the Yakata-mae Swimming Pool located in front of the East Center Wing of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex, he said that its deterioration through age, which had necessitated annual repairs before the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, had now come to a point where it would be better to remove it. He added that, since several temporary swimming pools are set up for the pilgrimage, its removal would have no significant adverse effect. “The hollow that will be created when the swimming pool is removed,” he continued, “will be filled with earth by the hands of children through earth-carrying hinokishin.” Eventually, the site will become an open area.
Regarding the building for hand-washing facilities currently under construction in the east precincts, Rev. Shimamura said that tiles were being laid on its roof. “The stonework will be undertaken next,” he said, adding that the construction would be completed soon.