On November 11, the Shinbashira and Mrs. Harue Nakayama attended the service commemorating the 40th anniversary of Tenrikyo Nepal Renrakusho in Kathmandu. Despite the tense political situation Nepal currently faces, 363 followers attended the service–some coming from as far away as Pokhara City, which is 140 kilometers (87 mi.) from the Nepalese capital.
Although heavy rains fell on the night before the service, by next morning there was not a cloud left in the sky, allowing the snow-capped Himalayas to come brilliantly into view. Followers began assembling at Nepal Renrakusho at around 7:00 A.M., three hours before the service commenced. Also attending were the two former heads, Rev. Ryoji Omukai and Rev. Shichiro Soma, who were greeted warmly by members of the congregation.
The service began when Renrakusho Head Yoshiharu Kamimura read the service prayer. The Shinbashira then gave an address. After mentioning that there was less than two months left in this year, the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, he stated: “Although our way of walking the path after the anniversary may well be different from that during the lead-up to the anniversary, one thing we should not do is to stop making progress. In fact, we should take firm new steps forward.”
Concerning the milestone of the 40th anniversary of Nepal Renrakusho, the Shinbashira expressed his hope that it would lead to the further growth of the path in Nepal. He also said: “All of you live in this country of Nepal and share the same faith due to God the Parent’s intention. . . . If the Joyous Life is to be realized, it is necessary for you who have faith and live in the same area to be mutually caring and supportive with your minds in unison, rather than to follow the path in an uncoordinated fashion.”
The Shinbashira concluded by saying, “It is my hope that all of you will help and encourage one another to continue to use this Renrakusho as a place to enrich your faith, foster your spiritual growth, and spread the teachings.”
The Shinbashira and his wife then led the seated service, which was followed by the Dance with Hand Movements, performed joyously and in unity of mind.
Then Rev. Kamimura delivered a speech. After thanking the couple from Jiba, he said to the congregation: “Let all of us put our heads together and work together spiritedly so that we can help people in Nepal live the Joyous Life as intended by God the Parent.”
The Path in Nepal
The path in Nepal can be traced to the year 1958, when Mr. Ram Krishna Varma became a student of the Japanese Language Program at Tenri University on the recommendation of the second Shinbashira Shozen Nakayama. In 1966, Rev. Ryoji Omukai, the first person to be dispatched by Tenrikyo Church Headquarters to the Asian continent in more than twenty years, enshrined a symbol of worship in the home of Mr. Varma’s elder brother, an event that marked the beginning of Tenrikyo Nepal Renrakusho. While serving as head of the Renrakusho, Rev. Omukai also dedicated himself to teaching the Japanese language in Nepal. Over the years, many of the students he sent to Tenri University became Yoboku. Meanwhile, Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association sent six Asia Study Tours to Nepal. A religious charity was established in 1982 to provide medical treatment in doctorless areas and hinokishin at nursing facilities as well as to conduct reforestation projects and other activities. Further, Rev. Omukai subsequently became a Japanese language instructor at Tribhuvan University and received an award in education in 1986. The succeeding Renrakusho heads, Rev. Soma (1993-2004) and Rev. Kamimura (2004-present), have also continued to teach Japanese at the university on top of providing guidance and care for followers.
The Shinbashira and Mrs. Harue Nakayama Visit Thailand and Hong Kong
On their way home to Jiba from Nepal, the Shinbashira and his wife made stops in Thailand and Hong Kong. Arriving in Bangkok on the evening of November 12, they visited Tenrikyo Mission Center in Thailand and three other Tenrikyo facilities on the 13th.
The couple departed for Hong Kong on the morning of the 14th and visited Tenrikyo Mission Center in Hong Kong and two other facilities in the city. After touring the Hong Kong Tenri Japanese Language School on the morning of the 15th, the couple returned to Jiba that night.