Sunday, August 5, 2012
Kansho-sama founded the Tendai/Shugendo temple Sampoen in 1978, and one of its activities is take Japanese students to Saipan every year as cultural exchange with Saipan's students and to have the students participate is prayers for the WWII dead of all nationalities. In 1943 this island in the Marianas chain was the site of one of the most brutal war battles, with nearly all of the 40,000 Japanese dying, along with Koreans, native Chamorros, and American troops.
This was the 34th year Sensei has organized this event, accompanied by 34 students age 11-18 and 8 staff, including myself for the first time. In February a contingent from Saipan will homestay in Nagano, Japan, many experiencing snow for the first time. The left photo shows the Sayonara Party sponsored by the Mayor of Saipan. The right photo shows Kayaki-sensei leading the ceremony of releasing 400 lanterns into the Pacific Ocean for repose of the dead.
We all spent several hours of the afternoon making the lanterns of red, yellow, and white. Hand written on one side was NAMO AMIDA BUTSU and on the other NAMO MYO HO RENGE KYO.