Prior to the start of the New Year’s Day Service at 5:00 a.m., worshipers briskly made their way to the Main Sanctuary for the first Service of the year as the winter constellations twinkled in the predawn sky. The low temperature in Nara Prefecture was -1ºC (30.2ºF).
At 5:00 a.m., the Shinbashira and other Service performers paid their respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall before proceeding to the Main Sanctuary.
In the Service prayer, after expressing his appreciation for having welcomed the New Year, he said: “Looking back on the previous year, You showed us various situations out of Your urgent haste for world salvation. Though we may have fallen short, we strived to inquire into Your intention and pondered how to align ourselves singly to it as we worked to carry out the tasks of the season. We are extremely grateful for Your profound guidance that led us last year.”
He continued, “We Service performers as well as church head ministers and other Yoboku will apply our efforts to the construction of a world of joyousness in a unity of mind by further solidifying our single-heartedness with God, deepening our awareness of being Yoboku, and dedicating our sincerity toward sprinkling the fragrance and helping save others.”
This was followed by the joyous performance of the Kagura and the Teodori. As dawn broke and the temperature dropped, spirited and cheerful voices singing the songs for the Service resounded throughout the Sanctuary precincts.
Following the performance of the Service, the Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary. After he offered his New Year’s greetings to Oyasama, he said: “With the turn of the new year, we will heighten our joy and awareness at being Oyasama’s instruments, convey the Parent’s intention throughout the world, lay the path of single-hearted salvation, and dedicate our sincerity toward Your intention that eagerly awaits the Joyous Life.” Just then, the sun peaked out from the eastern mountains.