The Oyasato Construction Young Men's Association hinokishin Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. First organized when the Oyasato-yakata building-complex construction was begun in 1954, it had already formed its 691st regular corps in October 2004. During these 50 years, approximately 80,000 association members have sown seeds of sincerity at the Home of the Parent by participating in the corps. The construction of South Right Wing 2 of the Oyasato-yakata is presently underway, offering the Young Men's Association hinokishin Corps a prime opportunity to take an active role. In addition to engaging in hinokishin, corps members sow seeds of sincerity at Jiba by learning the teachings as well as by practicing the Dance with Hand Movements and the musical instruments for the service. This article provides an inside report on a day in the hinokishin Corps.
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It is 4:55 A.M., and the day has yet to break. Surrounded by darkness and a mid-October chill, one can see Constellation Cassiopeia dimly twinkling overhead.
At Moya 100, the Young Men's Association hinokishin Corps dormitory, wake-up music starts playing over the PA system. The 691st regular corps occupying the dormitory is comprised of 180 members from 16 chapters. On top of every locker in the members' rooms, there is a blue helmet, the color representing the mind like clear skies.
After washing their faces, the members immediately busy themselves with cleaning the rooms, hallways, and bathrooms.
5:30 A.M. All corps members put on their happi coats and assemble in the parking lot of Moya 100. In unison, all members recite the Guiding Principles of Arakitoryo, pioneers of the path. "We Arakitoryo shall dedicate ourselves spiritedly to single-hearted salvation, . . . sow seeds of sincerity at Jiba, . . . and live with a mind that will bring joy to Oyasama."
Announced in 1953, the Oyasato-yakata construction plan called for a total of 68 buildings to be built in a quadrangle of 8 cho square [2,863 feet on each side] surrounding the Jiba. It was in response to this announcement that the Young Men's Association hinokishin Corps was organized.
The corps was originally organized out of the spirit of single-heartedness with Jiba. It sought to consolidate young men's strength for the construction of the Oyasato-yakata and thereby bring joy to God the Parent.
In its early days, the corps was organized as a 10-day, 50-member corps. It made significant contributions to the first phase of the construction of the Oyasato-yakata (East Center Wing and East Left Wings 1-4). The corps was temporarily disbanded in 1956 when the first phase of the construction was completed but, based on the teaching of "endless construction," it was re-established under the slogan "Until the day the Oyasato-yakata construction is completed."
Since then, the corps' duration and organization have gone through various changes. In 1986, the corps was re-organized into the current format of a 24-day, 100-member corps. Over the years, the hinokishin Corps has fulfilled significant roles in various Oyasato construction projects such as the construction of the East and West Worship Halls.
The word "construction" implies working on our "spiritual construction," which ought to keep pace with the "material construction" of the Oyasato-yakata. The significance of the hinokishin Corps is to sow seeds of sincerity at Jiba through the Oyasato construction, bring the members' faith ever closer to the heart of the Parent, and walk the path of single-hearted salvation, which will lead to the construction of the world of the Joyous Life. In other words, it is about making progress in spiritual growth, as befits Arakitoryo, or pioneers of the path.
To achieve this goal, in addition to daytime hinokishin activities, members of the corps take part in evening training programs that enable them to study the teachings and practice the service.
At 8:05 A.M., announcements for the day's hinokishin sites are made over the PA system at Moya 100. The members are told that there will be 12 hinokishin sites including the Oyasato-yakata's South Right Wing 2 and the construction site for the westward expansion of the Sanctuary precincts. Dressed in their hinokishin Corps uniforms, the members assemble in the parking lot of Moya 100 before leaving by bus or on foot.
Today, a group of 26 members is assigned to the construction site for South Right Wing 2. There are four different tasks waiting for them. Together with construction workers, some members are to lay reinforcing steel rods on top of the roof. Due to the angle of the roof's slope--a steep 35 degrees--the corps members put on safety belts and have anxious looks on their faces.
On the 2nd and 3rd floors, the rest of the group carry mortar to fill gaps in the veranda floors and walls. They also remove concrete debris and clear nails that had been used to fasten molding boxes to the floor.
After completing the tasks on top of the roof of South Right Wing 2, Mr. Setsuo Tani (a 31-year-old minister affiliated with Yuho Branch Church from Arita City, Wakayama Prefecture) says: "You can do hinokishin anytime, anywhere, but the Oyasato-yakata is extra special because it will still be there after 100 or 200 years. I am so grateful to be able to make some contribution toward its construction."
A little after 4:00 P.M., the corps members enter Dining Hall 1. After eating dinner, they return to the dormitory in one large group. As the late afternoon sun shines softly upon the marching members, they sing the "Oyasama 120th Anniversary Song" in unison.
Free time awaits them after returning to Moya 100. Some go to the Main Sanctuary to worship or do corridor-cleaning hinokishin. Among those going to the Main Sanctuary are 27 members from Ashitsu chapter. They say that they are doing corridor cleaning hinokishin "to unite their minds as one and to ask God the Parent to protect them from accidents throughout the duration of the corps."
Training programs start at 8:00 P.M. Members may choose from a variety of programs such as ritual procedures, the dance and musical instruments for the service, making plectrums for the koto, and gagaku music. Each program lasts for five days.
After the training programs, members perform the service dance in their rooms and read verses from the Ofudesaki, The Tip of the Writing Brush. They also read Instruction Two. Then they line up in the hallways for roll call and a moment of worship. The clock's hands are showing half past nine when the member on day duty announces, "This concludes today's activities!"