Tenrikyo Nioigake Day was observed from September 28 to 30 to wrap up the month when followers in Japan were asked to concentrate their efforts toward nioigake–sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings. The Mission Department of Church Headquarters designated September 28 this year as the day for church head ministers to make roadside speeches as an effort to return to the “day of origin” of Nioigake Day, when “Tenrikyo Roadside Speech Day” was held on August 18, 1932, 75 years ago. September 29 and 30 were designated as days for Yoboku to actively sprinkle the fragrance through door-to-door missionary work. In response, dioceses and districts in various regions across the country prepared for Tenrikyo Nioigake Day with workshops based on the guide entitled Nioigake Drill and roadside speech study sessions. Over seven million copies of two new pamphlets–“Introduction to Tenrikyo” and “Moderation”–were prepared for this year’s Tenrikyo Nioigake Day. Even from Tenri alone, approximately 1,500 people, including staff members of Church Headquarters, went by bus to Senboku New Town, Sakai City, to engage in door-to-door missionary work during the three-day period.
In Shibuya District of Tokyo Diocese, where two million commuters pass daily in front of Shibuya Station, 20 people participated in Nioigake Day, making roadside speeches at the same spot where political candidates were campaigning two weeks earlier. When the Mission Department announced that September 28 had been designated the day for church head ministers to make roadside speeches as a part of this year’s Nioigake Day, ministers in the Shibuya District decided to hold this activity in front of the train station. Rev. Tetsuo Kurihara, the head of Shibuya District, was initially apprehensive about the plan since, when the Young Men’s Association held roadside speeches 30 years ago at the very same location, the participants met with a cold reception. He could only imagine what the response would be today in this age where people are increasingly unreceptive; nevertheless, he did his best to urge his comrades and younger head ministers to take part. Participants also passed out pamphlets to commuters. While the majority who accepted them showed little interest, there was a woman in her 60s who remarked that she had been to Tenri on several occasions and was treated very well on her visits there. She said, smiling: “Hearing the name ‘Tenri’ brought back fond memories. I would like to go to Tenri again when I have the chance.”
Twenty-six people participated in Nioigake Day in Kita-Kawachi District of Osaka Diocese, making roadside speeches and passing out pamphlets to commuters in front of JR Suminodo Station. Among them was Rev. Susumu Kosuga, a veteran of roadside speeches who has engaged in the practice in front of the aforementioned train station every day for the last 23 years. In 1984, Rev. Kosuga was inspired to do these daily roadside speeches upon seeing a Tenri Seminary student doing the same during a pilgrimage he made to Jiba to pray for one of his ill followers. He initially did his roadside speeches in front of his church for about a year until someone suggested that he do it front of the train station where more people could hear what he had to say. When he first did so, gangs of juvenile delinquents surrounded him and, at times, insensitive passersby would interrupt him in the middle of his speeches. Yet Rev. Kosuga came to see that these disturbances were proof that people were listening. He considers his daily roadside speeches as just one of the many ways he sprinkles the fragrance each day and accumulates virtue that he needs for his salvation work. He explained his motivation behind his daily efforts by saying: “We receive many blessings and God leads us through life in a remarkable way each day. I can accept and appreciate God’s blessings for what they are, and with this in mind, I cannot help but want to convey to as many people as possible how great the path’s teachings are.”
Rev. Kosuga then shared some advice based on his long experience doing roadside speeches: “With roadside speeches, it is enough to have the word ‘Tenrikyo’ remain in the back of people’s minds. That is because this eventually opens an opportunity for people to be saved when they are faced with a knot; it becomes the seed through which God the Parent draws them to the faith.”