Under the theme “Letʼs savor the joy of returning to Jiba with as many children as possible!” the 2023 Childrenʼs Pilgrimage to Jiba was held with a new look between July 27 and August 6 for the first time after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this 11-day period—which included two weekends to help spread out the pilgrims and prevent the spread of the infection—a total of 113,889 children and adult leaders returned to the Home of the Parent. Although the scale of the attractions and educational activities was about one-third of what it had been in the past, children became familiar with the teachings and came away with unforgettable memories. Meanwhile, the Shinbashira and Successor-Designate Daisuke Nakayama made the rounds of the attraction and other activity sites and cheerfully exchanged greetings with the participants and encouraged the staff members.
At 8:30 a.m. on July 27, the Childrenʼs Pilgrimage officially kicked off with the “Morning Service.” Around 9:00 a.m., large numbers of children began swarming to various attractions and activities. Among the childrenʼs entertaining attractions was a variety show featuring dance, music, comedy, and magic. A number of playgrounds equipped with a variety of entertaining gadgets and contraptions were also provided for the childrenʼs enjoyment. In addition, after the evening services, the South Approach to the precincts was illuminated, and children enjoyed the fantastic atmosphere created by a show of colored lights.
As for the educational and training activities, the “Oyasato-yakata Lecture” and the “Service Practice Classroom” gave the children an opportunity to learn the teachings and practice the service dance and the musical instruments used in Tenrikyo services. Children could also participate in hinokishin activities at the Home of the Parent. Cheerful voices of children shouting, “Ichi, ni, san, shi!” (One, two, three, four), could be heard at the corridor-cleaning hinokishin site in the Sanctuary Corridor. Those belonging to fife and drum bands joined together in the “Fife and Drum Bands’ Dedicatory Performance,” which was held in front of the South Worship Hall. Participating bands showed their unity of mind as they performed the theme song for the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, “Thank you! Summer in Jiba!” (Arigato, natsu no Ojiba).
During the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, the Home of the Parent was covered by a high-pressure system, and there were extremely hot days with temperatures exceeding 35°C (95°F). At each location, participants were urged to take frequent breaks and drink water or tea to maintain hydration.
At tea tents scattered throughout the Sanctuary precincts and the event venues, members of the Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps cheerfully yelled, “Have some tea!” while serving ice-cold tea. The corps members—who savored the joy of helping others through hinokishin or selfless and thankful action—included those from overseas who took part in the Overseas Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps between July 25 and 29.
Besides the ice-cold tea, another specialty of the Childrenʼs Pilgrimage to Jiba was curry for lunch. Participants enjoyed as many helpings of it as they wanted.
The Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba came to a close on August 6. Prior to the evening service on that day, the “Gathering of Appreciation” was held at the East Worship Hall, where Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Zensuke Nakata expressed his appreciation for the staff members’ all-out efforts during the Children’s Pilgrimage.
Overseas Pilgrimage Groups
Pilgrims from overseas made an invaluable contribution to the Childrenʼs Pilgrimage to Jiba by adding an international flavor to it. In honor of these pilgrims, a welcome-back party was given on July 28 in the auditorium of Tenrikyo Overseas Department, providing a perfect opportunity for them to enjoy one anotherʼs company.
According to the statistics compiled by the Overseas Department, the numbers of people from overseas who participated in the welcome-back party were 37 from North America (U.S. mainland and Canada), 12 from Hawaii, 54 from Taiwan, 73 from South Korea, 56 from Mongolia, 28 from Brazil, 6 from Colombia, 4 from Mexico, 8 from France, and 1 from the Netherlands.