New Year’s Greetings
Toshihiko Okui, Executive Director, Tenri
Happy New Year 2006!
In February 2006, we will welcome the 15th year of the Tenri Cultural
Institute, which was established in 1991.
As I look back on the past 15 years, from the time before TCI was established
until now, many people have contributed their brainpower, time, and energy
to TCI. When I reflect back on the faces of each individual, I can picture
nearly 100 people. The Cultural Institute would not be where it currently
is without everyone’s sincere efforts and my feelings are full with
Recently, when we welcomed the 10th anniversary, I wrote an article titled
“10-100-1000.” It has already been five years since then.
Do you know what these numbers stand for? These were the numbers of the
Japanese school students.
The first “10” stands for 10 years, the next “100”
stands for the number of students for the first term, and the final “1000”
stands for the total students registered since TCI’s first year.
If we follow the same pattern, the numbers would be “15-128-1680”
as we welcome its 15th year. This is only for the Adult Class. If we also
include the number of children who have attended since we started the
Children’s Class in Fall 2002, we would have “15-182-1750.”
This is something for which we can be truly thankful.
Activities at TCI began with Japanese language courses as our main focus
of attention, and then we used the available gallery space to hold art
exhibitions and concerts that began our meeting with pianist Mr. Albert
Lotto. These three pillars are our main activities, which have not changed
in over 10 years.
In the five years since we moved in Fall 2000 from Soho to our current
13th Street location, not only did we see an increase in registered students,
we especially have seen even more people visit the Cultural Institute
for concerts and art exhibitions.
We are often taught, “The Path is what it is because it continues.”
Although TCI has benefited from word of mouth that has been the result
of 15 years of sincere dedication and remarkable performance by our instructors
and staff, I believe the basis of our current success comes from their
hinokishin spirit, which produces a comfortable atmosphere within the
beautiful walls of TCI.
At our establishment, the Bishop at that time, Rev. Tomoharu Itakura,
wrote in the Cultural Institute pamphlet, “The New York Tenri Cultural
Institute was established and set up in one corner of a big city in which
people from all over the world gather, as a place of bliss and harmonious
union of God and humankind.” Furthermore, Rev. Noriaki Ryono wrote
in the New York Center Announcements (the precursor of Seijin/Progress
newsletter) dated March 26, 1991 of the mind of determination and resolution
as the Cultural Institute was established. I would like to quote a few
excerpts from his article.
Since we have prepared to advance into New York, sprouting from a small,
peaceful and happy Tenrikyo community in Queens, I have always doubted
whether it is possible for us to manage this project […] The reason
we have never given up hope, even though we have a feeling of helplessness
and many questions, is because we have believed that what we were trying
to do was what Oyasama was hoping for us to do. Also, we have been afraid
of ourselves retreating back into our comfortable security […] At
the time of the opening of Tenri Cultural Institute, we can see the light
which the Institute will shine in 10 or 20 years just like a beacon lamp
seen far out. Whatever will happen, we will never stop our effort toward
It has been 15 years since, and we will observe Oyasama’s 120th
Anniversary this year. As this year is the year of Oyasama’s 120th
Anniversary, the Shinbashira has informed us, “Throughout this year,
let us bring back as many people as possible to make the Jiba as cheerful
a place so Oyasama will be joyful.”
As one way to bring together our hard work in the past 15 years, we staff
members are determined to make a concerted effort to bring back and invite
as many people to Jiba. I would like to ask you for your continued encouragement,
support and cooperation throughout the year.