Tenrikyo Europe Centre

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2017 July Monthly Service Sermon

by Mineko Miura (Head of Tenrikyo Chinzei Amstel)

According to the kind proposal of Mr. Hasegawa, Director of Tenrikyo Europe Center, I’m going to talk what I did at the opening of Chinzei Amstel Fukyosho.

Thank you for coming today.

On 25th December, last year, the headmaster of Chinzei daikyoukai applied to the Tenrikyo Headquarters for the documents to establish the Amstel Fukyosho.

The application was successful: it was accepted by Tenrikyo Headquarters on December 28th.

Today on January 26, on the date of the Spring grand service in the Tenrikyo Headquarters, I was able to perform the opening ceremony of Chinzei Amstel Fukyosyo.

Mr. & Mrs. Yoshihisa Mariko Hasegawa, Director of Tenrikyo Europe Center from Paris came to visit the Amstel fukyosyo representing the Headquarters.

Thank you very much for attending this occasion everyone.

The history of Chinzei-Netherlands begins Mr. & Mrs. Hanako & Ichiro Tsuneoka in 1973.

They made a trip to Europe on their golden wedding anniversary. At that time they hired a Japanese guide in The Netherlands.

She wanted a Japanese girl in their house as an au pair because she wanted to give a Japanese atmosphere for their children.

Mr. Hiroshi Tsuneoka even though he could not think of anyone at the time, still answered with one reply, “Yes, I will arrange that.”

From the next year 1974, Chinzei grand church began to send girls as Tenrikyo-young women’s missionaries overseas, to the Netherlands.

Mr. Hiroshi Tsuneoka went to apply a visa for the girl at the Kobe Dutch consulate. At that time the official at the consulate was kind of suspicious that the girl would work for the family without any payment. When Mr. Tsuneoka entered the consulate, there was a man coming towards him calling his name in a loud voice. It was Mr. T, who had been working in the consular office a long time. And also he was the man Mr. Tsuneoka had helped with his entrance examination for the Hawaii university. Mr. T’s admiration and respectful attitude towards Mr. Tsuneoka made the process of getting a visa for the girls a lot easier. And the arrangement was settled for many more years afterwards.

Actually, when Mr. T went to Hawaii Mr. Kashihara was also on board the same boat. And after he had been in college for 6 and half years and went back to Japan he by coincidence found himself on the same boat again with Mr. Kashihara. And Mr. Kashihara said to Mr. T ‘if you want to make use of your English skill, come to work at my place.’ And he worked in the Tenrikyo Headquarters missionary section. Mr. Takahashi actually taught both Mr. Kashihara and Mr. Iburi English. After working in Tenri for 3 years he started on a career in Kobe as a Dutch counsel. This is nothing but guidance from God the parent. Also, Ichiro Tsuneoka, former Chinzei Grand church leader’s quote, is often referred to ”fate is precious”. It is written as follows:

“To be empty. Make yourself empty. Devote yourself totally to the others. Because this truth matches the truth of heaven and earth. If you are protected by the blessing of the great nature, no one can break through the truth.”

I hear that my faith started with Ueno’s great grandfather three generations back. He gave his land and building as an offering to the forerunner of the Chinzei Grand church around Meiji 20s (late 1880s) and his younger brother did a missionary work alone without belonging any church and passed away in Kagoshima on his way. My grandfather was an executive member of Chinzei Grand church and my aunt was in charge of the finances of the church.

In around Showa 10 (1935) as a young man my father entered the Tenri Foreign Language School, now Tenri University. In order to be able to enter, he was adopted by his brother-in-law of Ashitsu Daikyoukai, and his name therefore was changed to Matsukuma.

He had planned to return to his parental home after graduation, but on January 2nd 1937 his parents’ restaurant and house burnt down and three people were killed in the fire. With his parents' assistance now gone, he decided to leave school and started working as a missionary, offering his salary to the church every month.

At the request of the head of Ashitsu daikyoukai, his brother-in-law who was in charge of accounting there sold the land of Ashitsu daikyoukai in order that the proceeds would be offered to Tenrikyo headquarters at the anniversary of Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life. As a result of this he was fired by the board of directors of Ashitsu daikyoukai and he was sent away from his church. The head of Ashitsu daikyoukai asked headquarters to lend them some land and a house to live in. Our family decided to return to the Chinzei daikyoukai.

My father's brother in law was working as a missionary and brought people who had nowhere to live to our home. After that I was born near the present Tenri junior high school at a private residence owned by the church headquarters.

I completed the Tenrikyo spiritual development course in April, 1979, in the 456th term of the School. Then I worked for a while at Chinzei daikyoukai, after which I came to Haarlem in October as the 7th young women’s missionary, staying at the house of Mr. Y. It was quite different from the environment I had imagined, but I realised that time would pass if I would be patient for two years. In the end I was there for three and a half years. There was a rumour that the living conditions in the Netherlands were very bad in the Chinzei Church, which is why no successor could be found for me and I had to stay so much longer.

I do not know if that is the reason why, but in 1981 at Leiden National Folk Museum I got in touch with a young grand master of the Enshu tea ceremony who suggested that I should start learning the tea ceremony. As I started practising, the teacher was Mr. Koji Miura, and after working at Daikyokai in Japan for 2 years we got married in March 1985.

In March 1985, with the financial help of Mr. Tsuneoka, the Chinzei Netherlands Missionary Centre was established. A place where the girls who were sent as missionaries had a chance to meet and relax a bit. The place was run by Ms. Kaori Ide and later by Mr. and Mrs. Yasunori and Etsuko Matsudaira. In total 36 young people, mainly girls were sent to Holland.

Mr. Koji Miura also cooperated from the beginning as a member of the board, helping the establishment of Chinzei Netherlands mission centre.

The activities of the mission center grew more and more over the years and a big house and garden was in use. There was the monthly service every month, there were hinokishin Days, joyous life lectures, charity jumble sales, concerts by the Kitazato couple, traditional Japanese rice cake making, and the annual New Year's Day service. The mission center also got in touch with some kind people and given these circumstances went on sending girls to the Bochove family and the Nederkoorn family.

In 2003 due to the debt of Chinzei Daikyoukai the sale of the mission center was decided in a meeting of the Chinzei Daikyoukai committee, and in 2004 the mission center had to be closed and the premises sold. In the same year in April, my first son Yoshitaka entered Tenrikyo oyasato High School.

In 2005 I was asked to join, as an observer of the Tenrikyo Europe Committee, by Mr. Nagao, head of the Tenrikyo Europe center at that time in Paris.

On September 22nd of that year the joyous life lecture took place at our house, and the lecturer was Mr. Kamada, whom I have known very well and he had long been a good friend. Because Mr. Kamada was coming, I was able, with his guidance, to make a success of this event.

Later I became a member of the Tenrikyo Europe Committee and when the Women's Association was established in Europe I joined as a member.

Then until 2014 we had joyous life lectures ten times. Many lecturers have come thanks to the great support we received from TEC.

After 2014 in two consecutive years we read the texts written by lecturers from the overseas department. The English text was read by Rob Nederkoorn and I read the Japanese text.

Venues were voluntarily offered by the Kitazato family, the Nederkoorn Nakayama house, the Nikken Kamijo family, and the Bogers Hosoe family.

My first son entered Tenri University in 2006 and the next year Takahiro, my second son, entered Tenrikyo kyoukougakuen high School. Thanks to the children, my husband, Mr. Koji Miura also began attending Besseki lectures.

My daughter and I warned my husband that if he would not have attended the Besseki nine times before my second son, he would be the laughing stock of the family for the rest of his life. He became Yoboku on November 15th, 2009.

My first son worked in the overseas department of the Headquarters after graduating from college and he returned to the Netherlands in April 2014.

In the same year we held “the Yoboku's gathering” which was organised by the Headquarters.

On September 27, 2015 my daughter Mariko got married to Masato Takeuchi.

The procedure of getting a visa for the UK was not easy, but in October 2016 she finally moved to London. Thankfully I did not have to feel sad about my married daughter's leaving, instead I felt great joy because they could now be together.

At the monthly service of December 2016 at TEC, during the first half of the service I performed the dance together with my daughter and her husband, and the vocal part was performed by father Takeuchi. Being performers in the service together with my own child after the rebellious period of her life, made me very grateful. My feeling had became so very strong that I had to express my gratitude to God the parent. Back in Japan in late September 2016 I was talking with my brother Koichi Matsukuma. Talking with him I wondered about my being a member of the Tenrikyo Europe committee and the Women's association.

I was also thinking about the rebirth of my friend Yuriko Taniguchi and told my brother about that. By the way, when I got married and went to the Netherlands as a bride, Utsumi-san a clairvoyant scholar whom I trusted a lot, said that Hanako Tsuneoka was coming with me. While she was alive Hanako Tsuneoka was working at the headquarters as well as taking care of her husband Mr. Ichiro Tsuneoka who had been giving lectures 365 days a year visiting all over Japan.

When I told my brother about that, he said that because she had come with me, I would have a direct line to the truth of the Jiba. Because of his words my mind was at ease and I was convinced that I had done the right thing. In the future I will keep in mind that I will accept obediently what God the parent requires of me.

From 1971 at the age of 14 I was helping to make the new year meal at Mr. Ichiro Tsuneoka and his wife Hanako 's house, living at Kyoto Chushin Sanso.

A book by Mr. Ichiro Tsuneoka was distributed for free all over Japan. This was done by a sort of caravan in cooperation with my father's brother-in-law. My father, though busy working, gave financial assistance to this project.

In addition, at our home, followers gathered together 330 days of the year, bringing food and eating together after work and they would talk about God the parent until midnight.

My husband 's grandfather, in spite of having a different religion himself, was doing missionary work, having his relatives take care of his children.

It is a strange thing that my brother is called Koichi (one), my husband is called Koji (two) and my nephew Kozo (three): 1,2,3 (complete).

My husband started using a walking stick every now and then from about March 2016, having problems with his leg. On his way back from Japan, he couldn't walk and he had to take an electric trolley at the airport on 16th December.

I asked Yoshitaka, my eldest son, to accompany him on his business trip and carry his luggage for him. Yoshitaka came back to Jiba for the first time in two and a half years and I felt sorry for the trouble he caused other people in Tenri. At the same time I was grateful to God the parent as I was thinking of setting up a missionary place. I asked Yoshitaka, while he was in Tenri, to do the paperwork for the application. He said yes immediately, but at the same time he realised that he would have to take over in the future, and felt the burden of it.

In the night of 13th December at 19:30 a fire started in an air circulation shaft in the restaurant where Yoshitaka was at work. Because the fire was extinguished quickly nobody was injured. The next day, December 14th again I talked about establishing Fukousyo with Yoshitaka. This time he gently agreed. I also thanked God the parent for saving him from a great accident. I told him it was the blessing of God: reducing a great misfortune to a small misfortune and a small misfortune to no misfortune at all.

The next day I told my husband about my plan and although he was surprised he readily accepted. This was on the birthday of my daughter Mariko.

On 23rd they arrived at Tenri and started writing the draft for the application immediately, and at midnight that day Mr. & Mrs. Fukuhara, head of the Chinzei daikyoukai arrived by car. They arrived earlier than usual. The next day they talked and showed the draft to him, whereupon he said that some things ought to be changed. Mr. Fukuhara himself wrote the final version and submitted it to headquarters on 25th and I’m informed that it was accepted on 28th. When I check the document, it was 26 December, and I found my father passed away on the day 23 years ago, which made me feel further the gratitude of God the parent.

The head of Chinzei accommodation, the head of Nanto chushin bunkyoukai and Daikyoukai were also surprised. My younger brother also asked me with surprise where this idea came from. I answered him 'no one asked me for it, just the time has come.'

I didn't know what the procedure was like, what to expect. So after my application was accepted, I was waiting to get permission. On 11th January I got a call from TEC, asking when the opening ceremony would take place. At the time I did not know that our application had actually been permitted. I didn't know that acceptation also meant permission, so I was waiting for permission.

As I found out that permission had already been granted, I had a date in mind for the opening ceremony: the day the spring grand service takes place at Jiba, January 26th. I asked Mr. Hasegawa and he answered that this day would be good. That day was Takahiro's birthday, my second son.

In order to clean up the house for the opening ceremony of the missionary place, it was absolutely necessary to have the help of a strong person. Yoshitaka was available because the damage caused by the fire in the restaurant where he works had to be repaired. So he was at home with the month's salary paid, albeit only partly. With God the parent's blessing the work of cleaning the house was accomplished. We took out the old piano with the help of a friend and put the shrine on top of newly bought furniture. Finally It is now possible to have people here who come to pray.

Some people sent messages congratulating me, having heard about this from Dai kyoukai. I tried to contact Mr. Hiroshi Tsuneoka on 15th, he was extremely pleased with the news that a new mission site was to be opened. He said he would like to be here on 26th, but at such short notice it would not be possible. As usual he sounded very fine. I myself have not been well for many years and my illness does not go, but I am having fun every day.

From now on I would like to take care of my body and continue my activities at this mission center step by step. Things went very smoothly as guided by God the parent.

I was a little worried when I heard that Mr. Hasegawa would be at the opening of the mission center, I received advice from him to consult with Mr. Fukuhara, head of Chinzei-daikyoukai during our telephone conversation. I immediately sent an e-mail to Mr. Fukuhara without expecting anything. On 18 January, I did receive a response from Mr. Fukuhara with the detailed instruction including the Saibun. I send an answer of gratitude telling that I set my mind ready. On the day, everything went well by the kind guidance of Mr. Hasegawa.

Although the instruments were only Hyoshigi, flute, Koto and Shamisen, we could perform 12 Kudari with Mr. and Mrs. Hasegawa and the friends in the Netherlands. It was surprising to recognize that 14 years has passed from the last service with these instruments in this country. I realized that it is the most important to keep helping each other and keep doing the monthly service.

Thank you very much.