The annual Sechi Festival was held at the Home of the Parent from January 5 to 7. This traditional event has been held since the days when Oyasama was physically present. This year, despite the cold wave that hit various parts of Japan, more than 85,000 people returned to Jiba from all over the country to partake of zoni, roasted rice cakes served with greens in a clear broth. Roughly 29,000 kilograms of rice cakes and 671 liters of sake were served during the three-day period. On the opening day of the festival, January 5, the temperature dropped to 27ºF (-2.6ºC), and freezing winds swept through the Sanctuary precincts. Nonetheless, followers formed long lines at the festival entrance, waiting for the gates to open. When the wooden clappers signaled the start of the festival at 10:00 A.M., the followers began filing through the entrance, where they each received a celebratory cup of sake before being ushered to one of the six sites serving zoni. On January 4, approximately 42,000 kilograms of rice cakes, which had been offered at the Main Sanctuary for the New Year’s Day Service, were taken down and sliced into small pieces by 1,200 people in the North and West Worship Halls.
Some 6,000 people including Church Headquarters’ staff members, Shuyoka students, and high school and college students supported the Sechi Festival by performing such hinokishin tasks as roasting rice cakes, ushering visitors at each site, and serving zoni. The Shinbashira as well as the former Shinbashira visited the six sites and welcomed the followers. During the Sechi Festival period, a total of 1,328 people attended the Besseki lectures (including 252 attending for the first time), while the total number of visitors to Tenri Sankokan Museum was 2,084.