Web Conference at 10 Places 9 Days after the Disaster
Calamities of unprecedented scale struck the Northeast-Kanto region of Japan on March 11. In the Northeast Japan in particular where damage was most critical. Missionaries continue to lead the effort to aid Shinran followers. By providing the victims with necessities as well as emotional support. Missionaries and victims jointly move toward the light. The Q&A sessions held at 2,000-tatami-mat Hall on March 20 were broadcasted via web conference at 10 locations in the Northeast Japan for those who were unable to attend the event. Notwithstanding the gravity of the situation, 'Namurokuji-no-shiro' - a castle of the 6 characters of Namu Amida Butsu - is filled with light.
On the day of the disaster, Missionary Ryosuke Soeya was giving a lecture at Gojome town, Akita. At 2:46 p.m., a sudden tremor led to the evacuation announcement, and he quickly realized that the farther away from the coast the earthquake epicenter was, the greater the damage and numbers of casualties. Blackout lasted all through the night, and without cell phone connections, he was unable to get in touch with Missionaries in other prefectures and had to endure aftershocks one after the other. The following day on March 12, he finally seized the opportunity to watch TV at Yokote Cuty Hall. "My goodness..." Overcome by footage of tsunami waves washing away the whole town, he lost his words. On the night of the same day, Missionaries in Tohoku region, including Missionary Soeya, called an emergency meeting at Sendai office. As they each reported the status of their districts, they came into full contact with the severity of the situation. Missionary Soeya meanwhile assisted the earthquake victims in Kitagami city, Iwate on the 13th, and on the following day, held a Buddhism lecture in Tsuruoka city, Yamagata where 7 people attended. "I am certain that they are seeking imperishable truth among all perishable things," commented Missionary Soeya. On March 17, Missionaries and Video Missionaries jointly delivered donated goods collected at Shinran Center Headquarter to evacuation centers located along Northern Pacific Coast. Mayumi Watanabe, a Shinran follower and former nurse, was found at an evacuation center in Matsushima City, Miyagi. A disaster victim herself, she kindly attended to other victims who depended on her assistance. Watanabe left a message with Missionary Hiroyuki Hosokawa for her husband who was cleaning up their scrambled house: "Our house will indubitably fall apart in time, but Buddhism is absolute and will survive through is all. So, let's listen to Buddhism together."
"Times like this call into question the true mission of Shinran followers. Though we went there to help them out, instead we learned a lot through their words," remarked Missionary Hosokawa. For those who were unable to travel to Toyama on March 20, the Q&A sessions were aired on web conference at 10 sites in the Northeast Japan. One of the web conference participants expressed her sentiments: "I was caught up in the earthquake until I heard Takamori Sensei's analogy about a boar and the mountain; I realize now that the crucial matter of the afterlife is far graver than any disasters. I would like to make more efforts to listen to Buddhism from now on."
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #04 | 2011, The Light of the Teaching to the Survivors
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