Tenrikyo Church Headquarters sponsored the University Division of the Students Training Course from March 3 through 9 at the Home of the Parent so that young people could take advantage of their spring vacation to deepen their understanding of Tenrikyo and share the joy of faith with one another. This year, a record high 463 university, junior college, and technical school students assembled from various parts of Japan to participate in this annual course. The number of participants has been increasing rapidly and quintupled during the last decade.
The participants were divided into 44 groups consisting of about 10 students each. The course was run by a staff of 176 people, including 88 group counselors, 44 males and 44 females, who had been trained in advance.
At the opening ceremony on March 3, Students Advisory Committee Chairman Tadahiro Fukaya encouraged the students, saying, “While you are learning the teachings and sharing the joy of faith with one another, I hope you will seek the parental heart of the everliving Oyasama with an open mind so that you can come away with something you feel you can rely on throughout the rest of your life.”
From the second day on, the students attended lectures, conducted group work, and practiced the dance and musical instruments for the service. On March 5, Head Nurse Yoko Taira of Ikoi-no-Ie Hospital delivered a lecture entitled “What do young people need to think about?” Referring to the matter of self-identity, she said: “People you dislike are mirrors that reflect your causalities. You can often perceive your true self for the first time by seeing what is ref1ected in these mirrors. You can inquire ever more deeply into self-identity through relationships with others.”
On March 7, the students left for Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara by train to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings, which was the main event for the entire course. They sang the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo while walking to their respective destinations—Senba Grand Church and Mitsu Grand Church in Osaka, Keijo Grand Church in Kyoto, and Umetani Grand Church in Nara. In Nara, which was newly arranged due to the increase of participants this year, they danced to the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo in front of Nara Prefectural Office on their way to the church. They delivered roadside speeches after lunch and then engaged in missionary work spiritedly for about two hours before returning to Jiba.
Junior Takichi Okano from Tenri University said, “This was the first time I ever delivered a roadside speech or sang the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo while walking, but I was very excited as if my heart were dancing with delight.” Sophomore Hirokazu Yamanaka from Kwansei Gakuin University, said, “I am very glad that I was able to administer the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, to a complete stranger.”
On March 8, some students attended the Besseki lecture while others did hinokishin around the Main Sanctuary. The participants also listened to faith experience speeches delivered by eight students and attended an introductory session on the Young Men’s Association and the Women’s Association.
Sophomore Yukari Kunimoto from Japan Electronics College, decided to participate in this course to please her father, who was hospitalized with malignant lymphoma and lung cancer. She said: “At first I wondered why so many other participants were very cheerful compared with my friends who were always complaining that there was nothing enjoyable. As time went on, however, I came to understand that the participants who were cheerful had something in common-their faith.” During one group work session, she told the members of her group about her father’s illness. One member suggested that all the members conduct a prayer service for him every morning and evening. Their sincerity touched Yukari to the heart. On the fourth day, she was informed by her mother that her father could move his fingers on his right hand, which he had been unable to move due to lymphatic tumors. She said: “My father was very pleased to hear that my friends conducted prayer services. I clearly felt the free and unlimited workings of God the Parent through this miraculous salvation.”