May 22, 2000:The 70th anniversary of Group of Friends of whole Japan, by Mie
Group of Friends of whole Japan was founded in 1930 and welcomed its 70th anniversary in Tokyo. Five members joined the anniversary from Oita Branch.

We arrived Tokyo in May 22nd afternoon and directly visited the headquarters of Fujin-no-tomo (Females' Friend) publisher.
Group of Friends is a circle of the regular subscribers of Females' Friend magazine, which was started by Mrs. Motoko Hani. We always learn much from the monthly magazine. In the lobby of the publisher, the original samples of cloths or dished introduced on the magazine were displayed in order.
On another corner were some works introduced in Tomorrow's Friends, a senior-oriented magazine from the same publisher.
Mr. Satoshi Kinoshita made those small lovely dolls with the title of "Making habit supported our survival in a Siberian detention camp." The much smaller dolls than introduced in the magazine made us moved to know that those loveliness had kept encouraging the detainees for a long time.
Here are the samples of dishes introduced in "Cooking for single male" book just published on April 25.

This book is recommended for a single male that starts his new life.
The publisher is located in Mejiro, several minutes walk from Ikebukuro railroad station. It is just like an oasis-like space that makes me relieved in metropolitan Tokyo. I saw Mrs. Kohama of Ichikawa Branch. She used to live in Oita because of her husband's transfer. We had learned much together in Oita days, she is one of my most important friends.

Another body born from the thought of Mrs. Motoko Hani is "Jiyu-Gakuen", or "Campus of Freedom." In 1921, the school was opened here in Mejiro. The original building of the school was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1921. He had been staying in Japan in order to design The Imperial Hotel. The building was named "Tomorrow's House."
The world-valuable House, however, has survived almost eight decades and has been deteriorating seriously. The House was nominated this time as an important cultural property and now under intensive repair works for preservation. The House will be used upon completion as a facility for lifelong education.
The over 70 participants from Kyushu Island stay at Japan Youth Club. The five members from Oita share a large room with the members from Saga City.

On May 23, the general meeting opens at last.
The first day of the meeting is to be held at Jiyu-Gakuen in Minamizawa annually. We headed to Hibarigaoka station by changing the train during the rush hours.

Representatives from all Japan came in a stream to the site. We took a commemorative picture in front of the signboard of the meeting set on the main gate of the school. The Jiyu-Gakuen is my dear old campus in which my son had learned in the junior high school, high school, and in the college.
In the Commemoration Hall, all the members are await for the opening on their allotted seats.

The main theme (left) of the 70th anniversary is "Thanks to the 70-year history, hoping, thinking, living, and praying." On the front stage (right) sit the members of the Central Committee. The entrance of the representatives from the branches around the world was followed by the reconfirmation of the three days program, opening announcement, the report of the visit to the founder's grave, worship by Ms. Nobuko Ohtsuka (a Central Committee.) Then the new local leaders appealed their aspirations and reported their status of the membership. The morning session was ended up with the congratulatory address by the president of Jiyu-Gakuen.
All the participants, 906 people from 193 branches, stood in order on the Grand Lawn of the campus to take commemorative pictures.

After that, the people took lunch in two groups.
The lunch is prepared annually by the schoolgirls.
From this year, however, high school boy students joined to make the lunch. The boy students make their lunch once a week in their home economics class. Today's main dish is meat loaf using pork from the pigs raised in the campus by the junior high school students. The side dishes were vegetable soup and yogurt jelly.

About 40 boy students prepared 375 lunches and served in the Yoshikazu Hani Commemorative Dinning Room.
During the lunch, the boy students reported how they prepared the lunch. Some of the newly enrolled junior high school students reported their new lives as well.
The afternoon session has started in the Hall. All the students practice calligraphy every week. Through their works, students report on "Our lives in Jiyu-Gakuen." There is no copy practicing calligraphy, they write whatever remained in their minds in that week. I was deeply moved to know that through this practicing, students could polish their minds just like my son did two decades ago.
Group of Friends runs "kitchen base" exchange with the females of Bangladesh. The 14th mission was sent to Bangladesh this year.
Mr. and Mrs. Ataur Raman who try hard to receive our members in Bangladesh flew-in all the way in order to cerebrate the 70th anniversary.

In the end of the first day, three members reported on their long time contribution to the Group of Friends.
May 24, the second day of the meeting started at the grand hall of Japan Youth Club. The foundation ceremony was held 70 years ago in the very same place.
Many people joined the meeting: 1,269 representatives from the branches, 54 guests and related people from three bodies created by the founder, from Tokyo branch, Jiyu-Gakuen, and Females' Friends publisher.

This is the reception table in the lobby.
On the front stage are beautiful tapestries prepared by the branches of Okayama, Nagoya, and Sapporo under the cooperation with Art Craft Center of Jiyu-Gakuen. In the front of the speech stand is a bouquet presented from Bangkok branch.

Ms. Sawako Hani announced the opening of the morning session.
Ms. Sumiko Aoki's pray was followed by a commemorative lecture by Mr. Junnichi Nishizawa under the theme of "What is essential for us who live through in the 21st century." He gave an impressive lecture on the principle of our life saying, "The real science and technology should be primarily filled with humanity and deep love."

In the afternoon, the male college student of Jiyu-Gakuen played orchestra music. There were some reports as well as proposals from the members who work hard in the Group of Friends' activities heading to the 21st century.

Now, we will leave the meeting. The general leaders, however, will continue enthusiastic discussions next day.
Thanks to be dispatched to the commemorative general meeting, I made up my mind anew to go by thinking, "What is Group of Friends on the whole?"

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