Volume 30: Chapter 5, Cheers of Victory 81–89
Cheers of Victory 81
Joryo Komatsuda and his family enshrined the Gohonzon in the shed that served as their temporary home and continued to chant earnestly. They worked tirelessly, riding their bicycles along the narrow paths between rice fields, to tell people about Nichiren Buddhism and encourage their fellow members.
They were eventually able to build a new house. Many Soka Gakkai members in Joryo’s family circle became successful and contributed to the community in such roles as high school board of trustees chairperson and senior civil servant. Many also held Soka Gakkai leadership positions. Among them was Toshihisa Komatsuda, the Akita Prefecture leader.
Joryo’s secret in fostering capable people was to thoroughly support those he had introduced to Nichiren Buddhism until they developed a self-reliant practice. He often said to fellow members: “We have a responsibility to do activities with and foster those we introduce until they can share Nichiren Buddhism with others on their own. This means that introducing someone to the practice includes thoroughly teaching them the basics of practicing for oneself and others.”
Shin’ichi had heard in detail from Akita leaders how Joryo Komatsuda had become one of the first in his family and his community to start working for kosen-rufu and that he was now 84 years old.
Shin’ichi pondered: “The phenomenal development of the Soka Gakkai has been achieved thanks to countless such unsung heroes. With sincerity, perseverance, and untold effort, they steadily forged strong bonds of trust and solidarity with their families, siblings, relatives, and the people in their communities.”
In his remarks that afternoon at the Akita Culture Center, he expressed profound gratitude for the truly monumental efforts of the pioneer members. He then proposed naming the participants of that day’s morning sessions the Snowstorm Group, and those of the afternoon session, the Whirlwind Group.
Joyous applause rang out for a long time.
Afterward, another group photograph was taken in the park in front of the center. By that time, the snow had stopped falling.
Prefecture Leader Komatsuda led the members in giving three cheers. Their shouts of victory rose into the heavens.
To commemorate the day, Shin’ichi composed a poem:
Braving the cold winds
the proud members of Akita shine as they joyously
seek the way
and advance kosen-rufu.
Cheers of Victory 82
On the evening of January 13, Shin’ichi attended a prefecture youth division executive conference held in the city. A prefecture youth division general meeting was scheduled the following day. Shin’ichi took as much time as possible to listen to the young leaders’ ideas and requests.
Among the topics discussed was how to better foster capable people through various training groups to secure the ongoing development of kosen-rufu in the local community.
The youth also suggested holding an international forum on agriculture in Akita.
“What a good idea!” Shin’ichi exclaimed with a delighted smile. “Ideas like this are very important. Food shortages are a serious concern for the world. This is where Tohoku, a major agricultural region, has a role to play. The key is finding solutions to such pressing issues facing humanity and communicating them to the world. Such efforts should start not from Tokyo or other large cities, but from rural communities and regions. This way, we can open new horizons for Akita as well.
“Young people should always consider what problems everyone is facing and what needs to be done to develop their communities. And they should think outside the box to find creative solutions. You can’t change anything if you just give up, thinking it’s impossible. Decide that you’ll find a way to do it, then keep racking your brains, challenging yourselves, and persevering through trial and error. Having that passion will change the times. That is the mission of youth.”
Wishing to entrust them with the future, Shin’ichi continued: “Today Tohoku and Hokkaido are known as rice-growing areas, but in days past, cultivating rice in such cold climates was thought too difficult. Yet people made it happen by working hard over many decades to improve rice varieties.
“In a similar vein, one of our members in the Dominican Republic, after a great deal of ingenuity and effort, succeeded in using rice to replicate awaokoshi [a traditional Japanese sweet made with puffed millet].
“In Akita, for instance, you might want to think about what you can do with all this snow! If someone could come up with a really good idea, it would have a major impact on Akita. Earnestly challenging each issue is key. You can open the way to a brighter future only through all-out efforts.”
Once we decide that we will improve things, our potential expands limitlessly, and new doors will open.
Cheers of Victory 83
“When you try to achieve or improve something,” Shin’ichi continued, “you are sure to hit roadblocks and face contradictions. Indeed, the world is full of contradictions. We just have to keep forging ahead day after day with wisdom and perseverance. Even more so as we navigate the new and uncharted course to worldwide kosen-rufu. It is an undertaking fraught with difficulty. You have to take initiative with a self-reliant spirit!
“You all need to become Shin’ichi Yamamotos. If all of you stand up with that awareness, the 21st century will be a century of boundless hope. Let’s make tomorrow’s prefecture youth division general meeting the kickoff.”
In the January 14 Seikyo Shimbun, a headline proclaiming “Proud Akita Members Brave Snow, Joyfully Turning Winter into Spring” ran across the second and third pages, with the two group photos that Shin’ichi had taken with members in the snow the previous day filling both.
Snow continued to fall heavily on January 14, the temperature below freezing all day. Inside the Akita Culture Center, Shin’ichi composed poems for pioneer members who had made important contributions to kosen-rufu, and inscribed calligraphies of the names of local chapters.
The lives of those who exert themselves fully each moment, day after day, shine like gold.
Shin’ichi also encouraged Joryo Komatsuda, the first district leader of Ota Area in Semboku County, and his wife, Miyo, who had come to the culture center.
“I am praying for your health and long life. Your being healthy and well is a source of pride for everyone. Please look after our members.”
Later on, Shin’ichi went out to see an igloo-like snow hut, known as a kamakura, that Sanno Chapter members and others had built in a corner of the park fronting the center. Such snow huts are a central feature of the traditional winter Kamakura Festival, held in the Yokote region of Akita and in other parts of Japan.
Earlier, when Shin’ichi was inside the center inscribing calligraphies, he had seen the members through the window working hard on the kamakura in the falling snow. Shin’ichi was moved by the thoughtfulness of these noble members who wished to show him one of the beautiful winter traditions of Akita. He wanted to respond to their sincerity with his own.
Cheers of Victory 84
Shin’ichi quickly composed a poem expressing his gratitude to those who were building the kamakura, and he inscribed it on a decorative card to present to them.
The joy of seeing
young friends building
a song of spring
He later went out to see the snow hut with his wife, Mineko.
The interior was about 7 square meters (75 square feet). A carpet had been laid and candles lit.
“I’ve wanted to go inside a kamakura since I was a child,” Shin’ichi said to their guide. “I am delighted to have my dream come true today.”
As he and Mineko sat inside and sipped warm amazake,1 they heard children’s delightful voices singing: “It’s snowing, it’s sleeting . . .” It was a chorus of local boys and girls division members.
Shin’ichi went out to greet them.
“Thank you,” he said, shaking their hands. He then posed for a photograph with them.
He also took photos with junior high school students, a group of young women from Iwate Prefecture, and others.
He thanked and praised those who had built the snow hut, naming them the Kamakura Group.
Trying to make even the briefest encounter a source of fresh, lasting inspiration is the true spirit of encouragement in faith.
Known in the Soka Gakkai as the “champion of Japan’s northwestern coast” and the “champion of Tohoku,” Akita Prefecture was about to take off toward the future. On the evening of January 14, as snow fell, 1,500 representatives from throughout the prefecture joyfully gathered for the 1st Prefecture Youth Division General Meeting at the Akita Culture Center, where Shin’ichi was based during his visit.
At the meeting, it was announced that the 1st World Youth Conference on Agriculture would take place in Akita in September, and that a Friendship Sports Festival would be held at an outdoor venue the following May .
It was also announced that, at Shin’ichi’s suggestion, the general meeting’s participants would be named the “1st Class of 2001,” with the goal of advancing together toward May 3, 2001.
These announcements thrilled everyone, and with hearts full of hope, they all renewed their determinations.
Cheers of Victory 85
Late that afternoon, Shin’ichi had visited a pioneer family at their home, his fifth such visit since arriving in Akita. Now, back at the center, he looked forward to meeting the members of the youth division, who would shoulder the future.
On joining the meeting, he took group photos with young men and young women in two separate sessions to commemorate the establishment of the 1st Class of 2001. Wishing to entrust everything to them, he sat down before the microphone.
“How we use our time is one of the crucial issues in life. Someone once said that the key to success in life is how you use the hours after work, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
“Naturally, you need to do your best at your job, but carrying out activities you believe in after work will without question make all the difference in your life. For us, those are the hours we devote to our Soka Gakkai activities.
“These actions are for the lasting happiness and prosperity of ourselves and others, a way to contribute to the community and build enduring peace in the world. They give us joy and allow us to discover the true meaning of life. Through such consistent actions, we break down the walls of loneliness and alienation in today’s society and bring people’s hearts together.
“Please keep striving all your lives and never stray from this path of Soka Gakkai activities.”
Shin’ichi’s voice grew more impassioned: “I fully entrust the future of kosen-rufu to you, the youth. The next 10 years will therefore be a time of major transition for our movement, so forge and train yourselves through study and effort.
“In particular, I would like you to gain a thorough grounding in the principles of Nichiren Buddhism, a philosophy for living. All outstanding people have applied themselves, working and studying harder than anyone else. Now, as philosophers and leaders of the people, you need to practice and deeply study the teachings of Buddhism, the foundation for all things. That is the noble path to victory as a human being.”
At that moment, the seeds of a vow were planted in the hearts of the Akita and Tohoku youth. It was a vow to make cheers of victory resound in the 21st century.
Cheers of Victory 86
No matter how the times may change, if a steady stream of young people appears on the stage of kosen-rufu, the mighty river of Soka is sure to swell and flow on, long into the future.
Shin’ichi called out in his heart: “Youth! I am entrusting you with the Soka Gakkai, kosen-rufu, the world, and the 21st century!”
The Japanese author Shugoro Yamamoto (1903–67) wrote: “What will grow will grow, no matter how harsh the elements.”2
Shin’ichi believed that these young people would play active roles as leaders of the new century, expanding the circle of trust and friendship in society and multiplying the ranks of capable successors.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Even one seed, when planted, multiplies” (WND-2, 602).
Shin’ichi continued to sow the seeds of inspiration, commitment, and courage in the hearts of youth. It was an intense effort into which he poured his entire being. But without it, there was no hope for a brighter future.
The harder we strive to foster people, the more the garden of beautiful human flowers will expand.
On January 15, Shin’ichi attended a gongyo session with Akita and Oita prefecture representatives to commemorate their new sister relationship. He then departed from the Akita Culture Center.
On the way to the airport, he asked the bus driver to pass by the Akita Community Center, where an exhibition about his peace efforts was being held.
As they neared the center, he could see several dozen young people waiting out in front. They held a large banner that greeted him with the words “Thank You, Sensei!” emblazoned in red. Smiling, Shin’ichi waved enthusiastically.
The young people waved back and called out: “Thank you!” “Akita will fight hard!” “Please come again!”
Though just a brief encounter through a bus window, it was a heart-to-heart dialogue, an unforgettable moment that would endure forever like a beautiful painting.
Shin’ichi felt sure that these six days in Akita would shine brightly in the history of kosen-rufu as a vital chapter in the drama of the Soka Gakkai’s counteroffensive in response to the priesthood’s oppression.
Cheers of Victory 87
Shortly after returning from his guidance tour in Akita, Shin’ichi left to visit Ibaraki Prefecture on February 7.
Ibaraki had also experienced a storm of despicable attacks against the Soka Gakkai by Shoshin-kai priests. The Kashima Area Headquarters in particular had battled to protect the members from those onslaughts. In Kashima, Itako, Ushibori, Hasaki, and other places, many members, deceived by the priests’ rhetoric, had quit the organization to become active anti–Soka Gakkai danto members.
Though the priests continued to malign the Soka Gakkai at the monthly temple Gosho lectures, funerals, and other Buddhist services, the members bravely endured.
In February 1979, a temple the Soka Gakkai had built and donated to Nichiren Shoshu opened at Kamisu in the Kashima area. Members hoped that, at least at this temple, they would hear pure messages about faith. But at the opening and Gohonzon-enshrining ceremony, the newly appointed chief priest accused the Soka Gakkai of slandering the Law. His actions trampled on the members’ sincerity, on their prayers and efforts for kosen-rufu and for harmonious relations between priesthood and laity. Anti–Soka Gakkai criticism and attacks also intensified in Ryugasaki and the area south of Mount Tsukuba (present-day Tsukuba City).
Most regrettable for members was that some of their comrades in faith, with whom until just days before they had spoken of working together for kosen-rufu throughout their lives, were led astray in faith and changed completely, unaware they were being manipulated by wicked priests.
“The truth will come out in the end! We must show that the Soka Gakkai is in the right!” With that vow, members resolved to work hard for kosen-rufu and bring springtime to their communities. They often sang the Soka Gakkai prefecture song “A Life of Victory,” the lyrics of which Shin’ichi had composed for them in October 1978.
My friend, though it may be hard now, someday
the golden winds of kosen-rufu will blow
and you will raise joyous cheers of victory
that resound through the heavens.
Ah, champions abound in Ibaraki.
Each line clearly conveyed Shin’ichi’s hope and prayer. Everyone’s heart brimmed with the determination to become a champion and remain undefeated.
Cheers of Victory 88
On the afternoon of February 7, Shin’ichi visited the Soka Gakkai Mito Women’s Center and then went to the Ibaraki Culture Center in the city to attend a prefectural representatives meeting celebrating the building’s opening.
“During this visit, I’d like to meet as many members as possible, give them hope-inspiring goals, and make a fresh start toward the new century,” he said at the meeting.
The next day, February 8, he attended a prefectural leaders meeting commemorating the center’s opening. There, he spoke about the fundamental reason some Soka Gakkai leaders had quit practicing.
“Common to those who have lost the pure spirit of faith is arrogance. That, I believe, is the leading cause.
“In fact, arrogance and cowardice or laziness are two sides of the same coin. That’s why arrogant people don’t take responsibility for kosen-rufu and avoid new challenges or hardships. As a result, they don’t progress or grow. Their faith stagnates, their ego takes over, and anger fills their lives. In many cases, this leads them to undermine kosen-rufu.
“And arrogant people, almost invariably, neglect gongyo. Consumed by arrogance, they take the basics of faith lightly.
“Some who become leaders at a young age and are put in a position to give guidance succumb to the illusion that they are more capable than they really are. They grow arrogant and look down on others. But a position doesn’t make you an outstanding person. You become outstanding when you fulfill the mission and responsibilities of that position through hard work.
“Never forget that a position is just a position, and that everyone has a unique mission or role to play. Only when all sorts of people unite and work together can kosen-rufu advance. Your position has nothing to do with being above or superior to anyone.
“Over more than 30 years, I have observed many members. As a result, I can say that schemers don’t last long. The cunning always reach a dead end. The self-serving are easily swayed.
“In the end, it is those with a seeking spirit, with sincere and steady faith, and whose daily lives are firmly grounded who are victors in life.”
Cheers of Victory 89
On February 9, a gongyo session took place to celebrate the Ibaraki Culture Center’s opening. Shin’ichi attended that meeting, too, and encouraged 2,000 members from Mito, Kashima, and Hitachi: “Another name for the Buddha is ‘Hero of the World’—one who bravely and vigorously guides people in the real world. That’s why we, as disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, must become capable leaders who win people’s trust amid society’s stormy seas.
“Yet another name for the Buddha is ‘One Who Can Endure.’ This is a person who appears in the saha world, a realm of endurance, in an evil age stained with the five impurities,3 and can endure wickedness and embrace others with compassion. When we reflect on the great persecutions the Daishonin faced, our difficulties are minor indeed. Faith requires perseverance. As the Daishonin’s disciples, establish strong, unwavering faith! Take on the storms of reality, endure them, and raise the banner of victory in life!”
On February 10, Shin’ichi went to Hitachi City and attended a gongyo session commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Hitachi Community Center.
He said to the members: “Tokugawa Mitsukuni, the second lord of the Mito domain, once saw the sun rising over the ocean here and described it as the most spectacular view in the entire region. That led to the area being called ‘Hitachi,’ or ‘rising sun.’ For this reason, I propose we change the way we write the name for our Hitachi Zone, replacing the existing characters with these for ‘rising sun.’”
Everyone applauded happily.
On February 11, Shin’ichi took a group photograph with the 3,500 participants of the Ibaraki Prefecture Youth Division General Meeting in the Sunrise Garden on the Ibaraki Culture Center’s grounds. Two new groups were formed—the Ibaraki Young Men’s Division Year 2000 Group and the Ibaraki Young Women’s Division Year 2000 Group.
That same day, Shin’ichi visited the Kashima Community Center for the first time. Kashima was an area where the troubles with the priesthood had been especially acute. At the center, he solemnly led a gongyo session commemorating the birthday of second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, and afterward attended a conference at Hokota with representatives of the Kashima Area Headquarters.
The following day, February 12, Shin’ichi drove to Tsuchiura by way of Ishioka to attend a gongyo session commemorating the third anniversary of the Tsuchiura Culture Center. He also joined in a group photo with those participating outside. He devoted every moment to encouraging members.
After that, Shin’ichi kept up his busy pace. He traveled to towns and cities all over Japan to meet with fellow members, the precious children of the Buddha. These champions of Soka had stayed true to the noble path of kosen-rufu while enduring the attacks of authoritarian priests. He wanted to commend and encourage them so they could raise cheers of victory in the shared struggle of mentor and disciples.
The members had won. They had overcome another towering trial. Their song of triumph resounded in the skies of hope.
(This concludes “Cheers of Victory,” chapter 5 of volume 30 of
The New Human Revolution.)
- *1A traditional sweet, nonalcoholic drink made of fermented rice.
- *2Translated from Japanese. Shugoro Yamamoto, Yamamoto Shugoro kara no Tegami (Letters from Shugoro Yamamoto), edited by Yuzo Toki (Tokyo: Miraisha, 1984), p. 34.
- *3Five impurities: Also, five defilements. Impurity of the age, of desire, of living beings, of thought (or view), and of life span. This term appears in the “Expedient Means” (2nd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. (1) Impurity of the age includes repeated disruptions of the social or natural environment. (2) Impurity of desire is the tendency to be ruled by the five delusive inclinations, i.e., greed, anger, foolishness, arrogance, and doubt. (3) Impurity of living beings is the physical and spiritual decline of human beings. (4) Impurity of thought, or impurity of view, is the prevalence of wrong views such as the five false views. (5) Impurity of life span is the shortening of the life spans of living beings.