Tenrikyo Church Headquarters hosted the annual Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba in the Home of the Parent between July 26 and August 4 under the theme “We are all brothers and sisters. Let’s return to the Home of the Parent.” Looking forward to this exciting summer festival, approximately 233,000 children and staff members, including some 870 from 17 overseas countries and regions such as Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the U.S. (mainland & Hawaii), Canada, Australia, Brazil, France, and the U.K, returned to the Home of the Parent during this 10-day period. Notably, quake-affected dioceses such as Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Ibaraki sent pilgrimage groups consisting of about 3,000 people altogether, twice as many as those who had returned from the same regions last year. Overall, as a result of recruiting efforts made by the Boys and Girls Association chapters, the event saw an increase in the number of participating children. The Home of the Parent was filled with children’s beaming smiles throughout the event.
The Children’s Pilgrimage officially kicked off after the conclusion of the July Monthly Service on the 26th. A variety of activities, events, and attractions took place in a large area in and around the Sanctuary precincts.
Each day (except July 26) started off with the “Morning Service” event at 8:00 a.m., which great numbers of children attended to express their gratitude to God the Parent and Oyasama for their safe return to Jiba.
The service was followed by a talk given by the Shinbashira, who is also the president of the Boys and Girls Association. After welcoming the children back to Jiba, he said, “God the Parent must be delighted at the way you cheerfully performed the service with gratitude in your heart.”
He went on to talk about how to spend the summer break. “Since you have a lot of time,” he said, “I assume many of you have something special you want to do or a certain goal you want to work toward during the break.” When he asked the children about their goals, they said in a cheerful tone such things as “I want to be able to swim 25 meters (27.34 yards) doing the breaststroke,” and “I want to study hard during the break so that I can ace a test.”
After sharing his own experience of writing out a daily schedule as part of his elementary school homework, the Shinbashira continued, “I believe it is important for you to accustom yourself to living each day in an orderly fashion by setting a daily schedule.”
He then shifted to explaining the teaching of “early rising, honesty, and work.” He said, “Early rising helps us have an orderly lifestyle and live each day to the fullest while making the most of the body we borrow from God the Parent.”
As for honesty, he said: “You wouldn’t be considered an honest person if you said you would do what your father had told you to do and left it undone. . . . If you fulfill a promise you made to God the Parent, you are honest.”
In explaining work, he referred to Oyasama’s words, “Work makes those close to you comfortable; for that, it is called hataraku (hata: for those nearby, raku: to make things easier).” He continued: “When you are grown up, you will work in all kinds of professions. What is important is to put your heart into working in your profession—no matter what it may be—with a sense of joy that it benefits the people around you. That is what Oyasama meant by ‘work.’”
The Shinbashira ended his talk by stressing: “We are taught that God the Parent created human beings in order to see us lead the Joyous Life. I believe ʽearly rising, honesty, and workʼ are the keys to the Joyous Life. I want all of you to make the best of this summer break while taking these three principles to heart.”
After his talk, all the children joined together in reciting the Boys and Girls Association Pledge. On the 28th, the pledge was recited not only in Japanese but also in other languages by representative children from America, Brazil, Taiwan, and South Korea. The event was then concluded with the singing of the theme song for the pilgrimage, entitled “Let’s All Go to Oyasato as One Family!”
The Children’s Pilgrimage was conducted smoothly thanks to the warm hospitality and hard work provided by tens of thousands of hinokishin volunteers. Among them were a total of 85 boys and girls from nine countries and regions who participated in the pilgrimage as members of the Overseas Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps. As one of the corps’ hinokishin activities, they spiritedly dedicated themselves to serving ice-cold tea at tents scattered around the Home of the Parent, where refreshing tea served with big smiles quenched people’s thirst. The countries and regions represented were the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, the U.K., Hong Kong, and Brazil.