The 2001 Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba was held between July 26 and August 4 under the theme “Let’s do hinokishin (selfless and thankful action) and fill the Home of the Parent with joy,” bringing more than 285,000 children and adult leaders, including some 770 from 13 overseas countries and regions, to the Home of the Parent. This 10-day Joyous Life theme park, provided by Church Headquarters every year in the city of Tenri, Nara Prefecture, captivated children with its wide variety of attractions designed to be both entertaining and educational.
Each day started off with tens of thousands of children assembling in the North, East, and West Worship Halls to attend the “Morning Service” event. After leading the participants in the performance of the seated service, the Shinbashira, who is also the president of the Boys and Girls Association, spoke to the children, explaining the teachings in a way that they could easily understand. He began by asking if there were any who were visiting Jiba for the first time and talked about God the Parent, who resides at the Jiba. “God the Parent created human beings in order to enjoy seeing us build a world where all people get along together and help one another live a life of joy and brightness,” he said. “For this purpose, God the Parent lends us the body as well as everything else in the world.” Further, to help the boys and girls understand the significance of hinokishin, the Shinbashira suggested that they try to remember that they are only able to be alive and move their bodies because God the Parent is working throughout their bodies. A feeling of thankfulness for the workings of God the Parent, he said, should then find expression in selfless actions, which are hinokishin. He said that while the “Corridor-cleaning Hinokishin” and the “Earth-carrying Hinokishin” are organized to help people experience hinokishin during the Children’s Pilgrimage, hinokishin can actually take any form, providing that the feeling of gratitude for God the Parent’s providence is present. Hinokishin can, in fact, be done anytime, anywhere, he said, so long as one has the willingness to do it. He asked his listeners to keep this point in mind and put hinokishin into practice even after going back home—something that is sure to help them bring joy to their parents and, above all, to God the Parent and Oyasama.
Organized for the children’s entertainment were a variety of thrills and adventures such as the “House of Horrors,” “Miracle Adventures,” and “Ninja Village,” as well as theater performances including the “Stuffed Animals Theater,” a musical production of “Donkey’s Ears,” and a variety show featuring dance, music, comedy, and magic. In addition, a variety of athletic competitions were held, such as the “Children’s Olympics” and a martial arts competition for children learning judo, karate, and kendo. Also available for children were a number of playgrounds with all kinds of equipment and machines, as well as swimming pools at seven sites.
The children belonging to fife and drum corps took part in contests and gave performances to show God the Parent and Oyasama the accomplishments they had attained during the past year. In all, a record 369 bands, comprising over 14,000 members altogether, participated in these events. These fife and drum corps also marched in the evening “Oyasato Parade,” which is always one of the highlights of the children’s stay in the Home of the Parent.
In the “Oyasato-yakata Lecture,” children learned about the Divine Model of Oyasama and how to live the Joyous Life. The “Service Practice Classroom” gave them an opportunity to practice the service dance and the musical instruments. In the “Exhibition of Children’s Arts and Crafts,” many drawings, paintings, handicraft items, works of calligraphy, and other items were on display.
It is noteworthy that many junior high school students chose to participate in the Children’s Pilgrimage as members of the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps and the Wakagi Ojiba Hinokishin Corps and dedicated themselves in hinokishin at a number of locations, serving ice-cold tea to other children and helping to run the attractions and other programs. In fact, this 10-day event is supported by thousands of hinokishin volunteers, including students of schools in the Home of the Parent and members of the Young Men’s Association.
All the attractions and programs were associated with one or another of the “three promises” for the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba: 1) Savor the joy of living; 2) Take good care of things; and 3) Help one another. Besides being explained at relevant attractions, these promises were displayed on many posters, panels, and banners put up throughout the pilgrimage sites, which surrounded the precincts of Church Headquarters and which were divided into three zones corresponding to the three promises.
On August 4, when the Children’s Pilgrimage was brought to a close, the staff and participants got together in front of the Main Sanctuary after the Oyasato Parade to offer their thanks to God the Parent and Oyasama.
Following the morning service on August 5, the Shinbashira thanked the organizers and people who had done hinokishin. Emphasizing how the Children’s Pilgrimage and hinokishin are inseparable, he asked his listeners to make use of their hinokishin experience in the course of daily life.
Overseas Pilgrimage Groups Return to Jiba
Pilgrims from overseas participating in the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba made an invaluable contribution to the children’s festival by adding an international flavor to it and offering an excellent opportunity to understand the teaching that all people are brothers and sisters as the equal children of God the Parent. Not only did the children from overseas enjoy a variety of attractions and educational and training programs, but they were also able to meet children of the path from different parts of the world.
Many joined the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps and dedicated themselves in efforts of hinokishin, such as serving cold tea at booths. This year, over 50 children and adult leaders from six overseas countries joined the corps.
Among those who joined the Children’s Pilgrimage from U.S. mainland were 40 judo players who belong to the Los Angeles Tenri Dojo, including 25 children under the age of 16. Of these, 17 children participated in the martial arts competition and thereby gained invaluable experience. Besides attending other programs and attractions, the judokas from Southern California trained together with members of the judo clubs of Tenrikyo schools including Tenri University.
According to the statistics compiled by the Overseas Department, the numbers of people from overseas who returned to Jiba during the period were: 188 from North America (U.S. mainland and Canada); 29 from Hawaii; 6 from Australia; 320 from Taiwan; 71 from South Korea; 28 from Hong Kong; 38 from Brazil; 52 from the Chinese mainland; 9 from the United Kingdom; 13 from France; 6 from Spain; 5 from Colombia; 2 from Venezuela; and 1 from Mexico. In honor of these pilgrims, a welcome-back party was given on July 28 in the Overseas Department’s parking lot, providing a perfect opportunity for them to enjoy one another’s company.