The 2000 Oyasato Seminar commenced on July 10 with 76 students from five countries. This seminar was initially launched in the summer of 1984 to provide instruction in English on the teachings of Oyasama for the children of church head ministers and heads of mission stations in the United States and Canada who were enrolled in high school. Later, in response to requests from other overseas dioceses, it was decided that the Oyasato Seminar should incorporate other languages into its program. It has since been expanded and is now conducted in Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese as well. This year there were 35 students in the English Course (21 in Course I and 14 in Course III), 19 students in the Portuguese Course, and 23 students in the Chinese Course. The Spanish Course was not held this year.
At the opening ceremony of the Oyasato Seminar, Rev. Yoshikazu Terada, head of the Overseas Department, delivered an address which was simultaneously interpreted into three languages. He began by welcoming back the participants to Jiba, where they were drawn by the guidance of their parents and Oyasama. He then went on to say that the seminar was an international family consisting of members with different personalities, cultures, and languages. He emphasized that the participants must, therefore, constantly keep open minds and make efforts to understand one another.
This year’s English Course I counselors were Caroline Ike and Tad Iwata and English Course III counselors were Lisa Okamura and Glenn Yamada. All four counselors are seminar alumni, and are back to take part in the seminar, this time to nurture the students and provide them with useful insights on how to incorporate the teachings of Oyasama into their daily lives. Also, as lecturer for both English courses was Daniel Higaki, who was a teacher at Tenrikyo Language Institute. He gave lectures on the basic teachings of Tenrikyo and stimulated the students to ask questions and learn the teachings as well as listen more intently to the Besseki lectures.
The seminar conducted in English is a two-year program and consists of three separate courses: Course I and III are held at the Home of the Parent in the summer and Course II held at the Mission Headquarters in America and the Mission Headquarters of Hawaii during winter or spring vacation.
The program provides students with lectures and discussion on the teachings, lessons on the dance and musical instruments for the service, and interaction between themselves and students studying in Oyasato. Course I is designed to introduce the teachings of Tenrikyo and to familiarize students with life in the Home of the Parent. Thus, activities also included hinokishin, crossing the Jusan Pass, and a mission caravan trip to Kanazawa City in Ishikawa Prefecture. Course III on the other hand is designed to prepare students to be active Yoboku upon returning to their respective countries. Activities included attending the Besseki lectures and receiving the Sazuke, community service in Kyoto, and missionary work in Aichi. The underlying objective of the program has always been to provide the students with practical means to experience the joy of faith so as to nurture their spiritual growth and assist them in discovering for themselves a way to apply the teachings once they have set out on their own.