Sponsored by Tenrikyo Church Headquarters, the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba for the 170th year of Tenrikyo was held between July 26 and August 4 under the theme “Words of thanks! Minds of joy! Helping hands!” During this 10-day period, approximately 256,000 children and staff members, including some 845 from 15 overseas countries and regions, returned to the Home of the Parent. While the children attended and enjoyed educational and training activities as well as entertaining attractions, junior high school students who joined the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps and those who participated in the Wakagi Hinokishin Program devoted themselves to hinokishin and savored the joy of helping others.
On July 24, two days before the opening of the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, the rainy season was declared officially over in central Japan. After that, the temperature exceeded 30ºC (86ºF) each day. The Children’s Pilgrimage, held in the height of summer, officially began after the conclusion of the July Monthly Service on the 26th.
Each day (except July 26) started off with great numbers of children assembling in the Main Sanctuary to attend the “Morning Service” event at 8:00 A.M. After leading them in the performance of the seated service, the Shinbashira, who is also president of the Boys and Girls Association, welcomed them back to Jiba and spoke about the teachings in a way that the boys and girls could easily understand.
Standing in front of the children in the East Worship Hall, the Shinbashira began his talk, saying: “The place in the center of the Main Sanctuary where the Kanrodai is set up is called the Jiba. At this place, God the Parent created human beings a long time ago; therefore, going to Jiba is really returning to the origin of human beings. God the Parent, who is the Parent of all human beings, has always been watching over all of us and looking forward to seeing us return to Jiba.”
The Shinbashira then asked the children what they were good at. The children raised their hands one after another and answered his question, saying, “Exercising!” or “Studying!” In response to those answers, the Shinbashira said: “As you may have experienced, whenever we work on something that we are good at, we have fun and become spirited. On the other hand, we tend to be in low spirits when we do things that we are not good at. In the course of our daily lives, we cannot keep doing only things that we are good at. Rather, there are times when we must do things that we are not good at. Nonetheless, if we put our mind to those things and make efforts to study or practice them, we can get better at them and improve ourselves. It is important to make a steady effort.” He went on to say: “God the Parent created human beings in order to see us live in harmony and in a spirit of mutual help and to share in our joy. The Joyous Life is not a life in which we only do things that we like or only enjoy ourselves without caring about others; rather it is a life where all people live in harmony by helping one another.” The Shinbashira concluded his talk by saying: “All of you have heard the ‘three promises’ for the Children’s Pilgrimage–namely, (1) Savor the joy of living; (2) Take good care of things; and (3) Help one another. These three promises represent Oyasama’s teachings in an easy-to-understand way. We are able to live joyously in a manner that brings joy to God the Parent and Oyasama so long as we keep these three promises. Besides enjoying the various events and attractions of the Children’s Pilgrimage, I hope that you will learn about these three promises so that you can practice them in your daily lives even after you go back home.”
This year marks the 20th year of the Wakagi Hinokishin Program–which is a one-day version of the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps. Every year, many junior high school students participate in the program and engage in hinokishin, through which they make friends and learn about mutual help. In the Sanctuary precincts and the event sites, participants served tea to children and adults along with the members of the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps.