On September 30, the Shinbashira and his wife, Mrs. Harue Nakayama, attended the 10th anniversary celebration of Tenrikyo Oceania Centre (TOC), located in Brisbane, Australia. This was the couple’s second visit to TOC since 1998–a year after its establishment–when they attended a ceremony to mark the completion of Tenri Youth Hall, built on TOC’s premises by Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association, which has been focusing its missionary efforts on Australia. The Tenrikyo community in the region has nearly doubled over the past 10 years.
The celebration drew 180 people not only from Brisbane and Gold Coast, a nearby tourist destination, but also from Melbourne, which has Tenrikyo’s only church in Oceania; Sydney, Australia’s largest city; Cairns, in the northeast; Darwin, in the Northern Territory; and New Zealand.
At 11:00 A.M., the anniversary service began with worship led by the Shinbashira. This was followed by a prayer delivered by Rev. Masafumi Adachi, head of TOC. “The path in the Oceania region only started a few decades ago,” he said. “Seizing this 10th anniversary of the Oceania Centre as a golden opportunity to go forward, all of us Yoboku and fellow followers in the diocese will start anew in unity of mind to make further efforts to advance on this path of spiritual growth toward the next milestone by sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and helping others be saved.”
The Shinbashira then took the lectern. He began his address by sharing his reflections on his first visit to TOC. Saying that Tenri Youth Hall, which was constructed as part of the Young Men’s Association’s 80th anniversary projects, seems to have been made good use of, he thanked all concerned for devoting their efforts to the path in Oceania. Then after emphasizing the importance of mutual help and encouragement among followers living in the same area, he explained the significance of Tenrikyo centers such as TOC. “[These centers] are not mere regional administrative offices representing Church Headquarters or the Overseas Department,” he said. “Rather, they are entrusted to play a core role in helping followers living in the region concerned bring their minds together in harmony, beyond the boundaries of church affiliation, so that the path can grow further in that region. . . . On this occasion of the 10th anniversary, I hope that you will take this opportunity to once again make sure that you understand the role of this center, and I hope that you will continue conducting its activities in high spirits.”
The seated service was then performed with the Shinbashira as the core, followed by a performance of the Dance with Hand Movements. The voices of followers singing the songs for the service, as well as the sounds of the musical instruments, resounded through the premises, where eucalyptus trees surround the buildings.
In the run-up to the anniversary, TOC organized twice-monthly practice sessions for the dance and musical instruments for the service. One of the local members even made daily visits to TOC to practice the service. The day before the anniversary, a number of service performers were seen rehearsing until late at night. At the end of the service, Rev. Adachi made a speech in which he emphasized the resolve of the local Tenrikyo community, saying, “We will work spiritedly to help people in this region awaken to the true teachings as we continue our efforts to bring about the Joyous Life even a day sooner.”
After the service, group photographs of all present were taken, and the Shinbashira and his wife planted a flame tree, also known as royal poinciana, to mark the occasion. A reception followed in Tenri Youth Hall, where fife and drum performances as well as some indigenous performing arts from Australia and New Zealand were presented.
The Shinbashria and his wife flew to Sydney the next day to visit Tono Sydney Mission Station, headed by Mr. Yozo Suzuki.