Our History

What happened on September 8, 1957?

Celebrating 60 years since 50,000 Soka Gakkai youth gathered at Yokohama’s Mitsuzawa Stadium for the “Festival of Youth.”

© ISTOCKPHOTO / FLAS100 AND UKUSUSHA


“The courageous cry for peace by the people at the grassroots is mightier than the threats and intimidation by those in power.”
SGI President Ikeda (p. 27)

 

What happened on September 8, 1957?

Sixty years ago on this day, 50,000 Soka Gakkai youth gathered at Yokohama’s Mitsuzawa Stadium for the sports festival, “Festival of Youth.”

What was the “Festival of Youth”?

When Daisaku Ikeda became the youth division chief of staff in 1954, he proposed to have an annual “Festival of Youth,” where the youth from the Kanto Region (which includes Tokyo and surrounding areas) could gather with second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda to seek guidance and display their growth.

Why Mitsuzawa Stadium?

From 1954–56, the “Festival of Youth” was held at Nihon University, a venue in central Tokyo with less capacity than Mitsuzawa Stadium. For the festival in 1957, however, Daisaku Ikeda sensed a profound significance to that year’s festival, thinking that perhaps President Toda would share an important, far-reaching message with the youth. This led him to look for larger venues in the Tokyo area, many of which were booked. Finally, he came across Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama, which was far removed from central Tokyo, but allowed for many more participants.

What last-minute preparations took place?

On the day of the festival, the eye of a severe tropical storm was expected to land in Yokohama. Daisaku, united with the youth leaders, chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo earnestly for the storm to change direction. While the storm did change direction, the rain fell heavily the night before, leaving the seating area drenched. Daisaku arrived before 7 a.m. with other youth event staff. With dry rags in hand, they dried the seating area so the participants could fully enjoy the festival. Soon after, several hundred buses arrived, one after another, carrying the participants. The event staff recalled calculating one bus arriving every 40 seconds. At 9 a.m., President Toda arrived, signaling the start of the festival. Cheerful youth performances brightened the atmosphere and an energetic sports competition ensued. President Toda observed the youthful vigor of the participants, his heart full of joy that so many youthful successors had emerged.

 

(p. 3)