Tenrikyo Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps (TDRHC) in Taiwan, which became Tenrikyo’s first formally organized disaster relief corps overseas, held its opening ceremony on March 10 at Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters in Taiwan. The ceremony, which took place after the monthly service, was attended by about 300 people. Afterwards, a reception was held, during which documentary films were presented showing a history of TDRHC, the local members’ activities during the quake disaster in Taiwan, and the training session held in Shizuoka, Japan, in October 2000.
The corps is composed of 184 members ( 108 females and 76 males). Considering the task requirements in disasters, the large percentage of female members ( 60%) might be surprising. This is perhaps explained by Taiwanese culture and kinds of hinokishin performed by unofficial members since the quake disaster on September 21, 1999. From October to December that year, they visited the stricken area every Sunday for a total of 12 times. Tenrikyo followers in Taiwan, mostly men, performed hinokishin to dismantle damaged buildings and clear debris. The women, on the other hand, performed hinokishin to clean schools and streets, and reorganized flower gardens. Not only did these unofficial members perform hinokishin, they also administered the Sazuke to injured people. Taiwanese culture and politics seem to welcome and accept religious activities, such as the administration of the Sazuke.
To function properly in cases of disasters, the corps is organized as follows. First, Taiwan is divided into five geographical sectors. Within each sector, certain churches and mission stations are specified as bases. In addition, a diagram showing the structure of the corps and a manual have been prepared.