The Oyasato Seminar began in 1984 as a program geared toward transmitting the faith to mainly high school-age participants who are to carry on the path of the overseas mission. Although it was originally initiated as a program conducted in English, courses in Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese were added in subsequent years. As of last year, there were a total of 1,300 seminar graduates from 23 countries and regions, making it a major part of the development of human resources for Tenrikyo youth overseas. This year, four courses were held: Portuguese and Chinese courses, as well as English Course I and Course III. Fifty-eight participants hailing from eight countries and regions–the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Nepal, Brazil, and Taiwan–returned to Jiba to take part in this year’s seminar. There were a total of 34 participants in the English courses: 19 in Course I (counselors: Cheryl Horikawa and Yosuke Kimura) and 15 in Course III (counselors: Burt Iwata and Hikari Nishida).
At the opening ceremony held in the auditorium of Tenrikyo Language Institute on July 10, Overseas Department Head Yoichiro Miyamori gave an address and encouraged the participants, saying, “My wish is that you will spend your time here at the Home of the Parent during the seminar relaying your thoughts to God the Parent and Oyasama while firmly sensing their divine intention.” After the opening ceremony, participants and staff conducted a prayer service in the South Worship Hall.
Participants in the Portuguese and Chinese courses and English Course I visited the historical buildings and the Foundress’ Birthplace, attended classes covering fundamental teachings, and practiced the dance and musical instruments for the service. The main aim of the first half of the Oyasato Seminar was to have participants become immersed in the teachings and gain an intimacy with Oyasama’s Divine Model. On July 16 the three courses crossed the Jusan Pass and walked to Jiba in the rain. Many seminar participants grew up in Tenrikyo churches and mission stations, but some had never returned to Jiba previously and were receiving formal instruction in the teachings for the first time.
Meanwhile, Course III participants engaged in hinokishin standing guard at the Main Sanctuary with members of the Precincts Section of Church Headquarters. Raven Walton, 18, of Sacramento commented that she was deeply moved at seeing how many people came to worship at night since she was only familiar with seeing the Main Sanctuary during the day. Course III participants attended the Besseki lectures during the seminar, and all 15 of them received the precious truth of the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, on July 17.
For the second half of the seminar, the four courses each went to a different missionary house to engage in door-to-door missionary work. English Course I went to Ishikawa Missionary House while English Course III went to Aichi. The Chinese Course ended on July 25, while the Portuguese and both English courses are to conclude on July 27.