The Shinbashira and his wife, Mrs. Harue Nakayama, visited Taiwan between the 15th and 19th of March and attended a service performed on the 18th at Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters, located in Taipei, to install Rev. Yoshiaki Mihama as the new bishop of Taiwan diocese. Addressing 1,000 followers who had come from all over Taiwan to take part in the occasion, the Shinbashira asked them to make a new resolve and start anew. This was the couple’s first visit to Taiwan since November 2004, when they attended the 70th anniversary of the mission headquarters. It was shortly after 8:00 A.M. when the followers began to arrive. As the worship hall was not large enough to accommodate the congregation, many seated themselves in the third-floor conference room where a large screen and TV monitors had been set up to show the proceedings of the service. Many others chose the courtyard or the street in front of the mission headquarters.
At 10:00 A.M., the Shinbashira led the congregation in worship. Bishop Mihama, formerly the head of the Overseas Department, then read the service prayer in Taiwanese. “Conscious of the weightiness of the responsibilities entrusted to me, I am determined to do my utmost to fulfill my duties while working closely and harmoniously with local followers and Yoboku so that this mission headquarters, on which all in Taiwan who have faith should be able to depend, may fulfill its role in providing them with appropriate care and guidance,” he stated.
The Shinbashira then took the lectern to deliver the address. He began by expressing his appreciation for the efforts that local followers were devoting to the cause of the path. He then said that, now that the year of Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary had been concluded, the Tenrikyo community was to embark, with renewed commitment, on the next stage of the journey leading to the goal of establishing the Joyous Life World.
He went on to explain the role and meaning of a mission headquarters and told his listeners: “The change of a mission headquarters’ bishop can be seen as what we call a ‘knot.’ Oyasama teaches that ‘buds sprout from knots,’ and indeed knots can represent opportunities for further growth. Yet they can also represent vulnerable moments when breakage can occur. Whether a knot leads to growth or not will depend on the state of mind of those involved with the knot. In your case, it would not be an exaggeration to say that your states of mind will determine the future of the path in Taiwan.” In closing, he emphasized the importance of constancy on the part of both the bishop and those in a position to cooperate with him, adding: “I hope that all of you will bring your minds into unity as you continue to promote your activities so that the path in your diocese will be blessed with further substantive enhancement.”
The service was then performed with the Shinbashira and his wife serving as the core. The worship hall rang with the voices of the followers singing the Mikagura-uta, the songs that accompany the service.
Rev. Mihama later made a speech thanking the Shinbashira and telling the congregation, “I look forward to joining you in walking the path of salvation with our minds in unison.”
In the afternoon, some 950 people comprising followers and others attended a reception held at a Taipei hotel in honor of the visit by the Shinbashira and his wife and the installation of the new bishop. The event had a festive atmosphere thanks to music performed by the fife and drum corps of the Boys and Girls Association’s Taiwan chapter, dance routines by members of the Students Association, and songs by members of the Young Men’s Association and the Women’s Association.
The Shinbashira and His Wife Visit Four Churches in Taiwan
Prior to the installation service, the Shinbashira and his wife visited four churches in Taiwan: Taihoku Anraku Church and Tsantai Church on the 16th and Taipei Shinyu Church and Taiwan Shoshin Church on the 17th. At each church, the couple was greeted by a welcoming banner and a round of applause by Yoboku and followers, to whom they spoke in a friendly and relaxed manner.
At Taiwan Shoshin Church, there was double joy for the congregation as the couple’s visit coincided with their monthly service. “The visit by the Shinbashira and his wife has given us new strength as we set out toward the next milestone on our journey to spiritual maturity,” said an elated Ryoko Fukui, 59, the wife of the church’s head minister.
The Couple Meet with President Chen Shui-bian
The Shinbashira and his wife also paid a courtesy call on Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian on the 16th. President Chen praised Tenrikyo for its emphasis on mutual help among all people in the world and its teaching of the Joyous Life. He said that the purification of the mind and the realization of a life of joy and peace are common goals of the peoples of both Taiwan and Japan. The president also expressed his appreciation for Tenrikyo’s involvement in international humanitarian aid efforts as well as in promoting cultural and religious exchanges between Taiwan and Japan.
The Shinbashira, when asked about some aspects of Tenrikyo, offered an explanation of the teaching that “you are saved by saving others” and stated his resolve to follow the path to the Joyous Life.
After the conversation turned to the fact that the former Shinbashira met with the then Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui in 1994, President Chen said that, this year being designated as the Taiwan-Japan Cultural Tourism Exchange Year, the present Shinbashira’s visit to Taiwan was a most valuable gift to receive. On the evening of the 16th, the website of the Office of the President issued a press release reporting the couple’s 30-minute meeting with President Chen and including a photograph of the three.