This year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba was held from July 26 to August 4 under the theme: “Let’s do hinokishin and fill the Home of the Parent with joy.” During this 10-day period, a total of 281,964 children and adult leaders returned to the Home of the Parent to enjoy a wide variety of attractions that had been designed to be both educational and entertaining. As opposed to recent years when the Shirakawa site was used for many activities, the attractions for this year’s pilgrimage were all concentrated in the area surrounding the Main Sanctuary. This area was divided into three zones, which were named after the three promises for the Children’s Pilgrimage: l) Savor the Joy of Living; 2) Take Good Care of Things; and 3) Help One Another.
Each day of the pilgrimage (except July 26) started off with the children’s “Morning Service” event, which was attended by the Shinbashira, who is also president of the Boys and Girls Association. After leading the children in the performance of the seated service, the Shinbashira spoke to them, explaining the teachings in a manner that would be easy for them to understand.
“To live the Joyous Life,” said the Shinbashira, “means to live happily and cheerfully. But please don’t think only about your own happiness, because the Joyous Life is a way of living that comes about when all of us are able to live together happily and cheerfully, helping one another and sharing our happiness with one another. That is how God the Parent wants to see us live. Today you are here at the Home of the Parent along with many other children from all over Japan as well as from many countries around the world. If all of you spend this day feeling happy and cheerful and helping others to feel happy and cheerful, you will certainly make God the Parent and Oyasama very happy, too.”
To give the children hints as to how they could be filled with joy, the Shinbashira explained to them: “If you think back on the times when you were sick in bed, you will be able to find joy even in such simple things as being able to move your arms or take a breath. Try to keep that feeling of joy throughout each day and radiate it to others. That will be a big step toward realizing the Joyous Life. I hope you will constantly look for joy in the things that happen around you each day.”
Following the Shinbashira’s speech, representatives from the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps recited the pledge of the Boys and Girls Association. On the morning of the 28th, members representing the association’s chapters in the dioceses of America, Hawaii, Taiwan, Brazil, and South Korea recited the pledge in their native languages.