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Seeking Spirit

The New Human Revolution, “Seeking Spirit” Chapter, Installment 49

Volume 27, Chapter 4

By Daisaku Ikeda

The following day, June 14, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a tree-planting ceremony to commemorate his visit to the Hokkaido Training Center and then took a walk around the grounds. The center was located in northern Betsukai-cho, on the eastern bank of the Tohoro River, which forms the border with neighboring Shibetsu-cho.

Green woods stretched through the mist, and gleaming white swamp lantern flowers bloomed in the marshland.

Walking along a path through the marsh, Shin’ichi said to Kaoru Tahara: “This place is wonderful. Wherever I go, I can feel the sincerity of those who look after it. I am very grateful. It must be particularly challenging in the winter.”

A Hokkaido youth division leader talked about the harsh cold there.

He said that when the temperature dropped to around minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit), swans sometimes got their feet frozen in the water, and you could see them struggling to break free.

He then introduced Shin’ichi to a member of the event staff: “Sensei, this is Katsuji Sugayama, the Nemuro Headquarters young men’s division leader. Mr. Sugayama has also been devoting himself to the center’s maintenance.”

“Thank you! I know you well. You are a pioneer of kosen-rufu in Betsukai. I believe your experience ran in the Seikyo Shimbun three or four years ago. I read it. It was very inspiring.”

Sugayama couldn’t believe his ears. He was moved that Shin’ichi knew who he was.

Encouragement begins with getting to know the other person.

Shin’ichi shook Sugayama’s hand. Slightly built, he seemed a very sincere and genuine young man.

Born and raised in Betsukai, Sugayama had joined the Soka Gakkai in 1957.

His grandfather had moved the family to Hokkaido from Fukushima Prefecture in 1928. He eventually opened a starch factory, but he switched to dairy farming when the business hit hard times. However, this didn’t go well either, and with the added challenge of illness in the family, their financial difficulties continued. This prompted Sugayama’s grandfather and some of his other family members to join the Soka Gakkai. Sugayama started practicing as well. It was in the springtime of the year he turned 17.

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