October 5-6, 2000: Kyushu Block Session in Kurume City

Kyushu block session of Group of Friends was held in Kurume City. From our Oita Branch, five members joined the session. All of us started Oita station.

The concourse of the station is decorated with a huge bush arrangement of autumnal grasses such as Japanese pampas grass or persimmon fruits.
We started Oita at half past noon and arrived at Kurume station past four p.m. Some members from Kurume branch welcomed us.

In front of the station, a tall monument of mechanical clock that commemorates Hisashige Tanaka, a great scientist nicknamed Mechanic Giemon. At fixed intervals, the clock rotates and a doll of Giemon turns out, they say. Unfortunately, we couldn't witness it.

Giemon invented a prototype of the loom for Kasuri pattern, one of the special products of the area, at the age of 15. He also made trial pieces of Armstrong gun and a sailing boat. In 1875, he established a factory later called Toshiba. Local people called him "An Edison of the Orient."

The session was held at Spa Resort Hotel Kurume. The back hill is called Mino range.

Some members of Kurume Group of Friends receive the guests in the lobby of the hotel.
Many participants rushed on the hall. After dinner, the leaders from each Group had a PR-meeting. We looked around the hotel's shopping corner. There are many bags and wallets made of Kurume Kasuri cloth.

Close to the hotel is an avenue called wax tree-lined street. There were many lovely Japanese candles made from the wax tree.
October 5, 2000: The first day

Now, the session starts from now at the large hall on the second floor of the hotel. The members of Kurume Branch prepared the site beautifully.
A large vase holds colorful autumnal flowers, and a panel used in Kumamoto session is set at the window.

The practice group of Kurume Branch gathers to have a morning meeting.

At 9:30, the session started. Ms. Kobayashi (left)
and Ms. Hayama, both the Central Committee members of Kyushu Block, take the chairs.

From left, Annaka and Fujiwara of Tokyo Central Committee, Saito, Hara, and Yamanouchi of Kyushu Central Committee.
Program: First day October 5(Thu)
  Tomiko Annaka,
   hymn #23, #500
   Bible, The Letter of Paul to the Romans 11-25-32
   Writings, A letter to the friend."Wisdom calls you."
*The number of Group of Friends member
*From the works of the 70th anniversary
*Led in the activities of Group of Friends
*Toward housekeeping and family budget course
Night meeting
Information exchange among the branches

The theme of the session:
"Let's become persons who can carry out our duties by cultivating the root of the Group of Friends through the exchange."

Today's attendants: 138

Ms. Annaka of Central Committee holds a worship service.
There are 20 Branches in Kyushu Island. Two of them didn't appear this time. After confirming the number of the member, each branch reported on their results of the 70th anniversary of the National Group of Friends.

A member of Kurume Branch presents how they promoted their individual group activities under the specific themes and demonstrated them on the Life Exhibition.
In the lunch break, a lot of participants look around the panels and pictures on the wall, or talking each other pleasantly.

From the distance, Okinawa and Kagoshima Branch members appear all the way.

Ms. Anan, the leader of living group, reported the result of Oita Life Exhibition. She talked about why the Oita Branch decided to appeal the panels on "The life of children after coming back home."

She presented how the Branch discussed the issues on busy hours of the children in doing many after-school activities such as club duties, cramming, or sporting. She also talked the importance of mother-kids conversation , dinner preparation, and mutual understanding. In the end, she described her impression of the Exhibition.

At leftmost, Ms. Matoba, general leader of Oita Branch, listens carefully to the presentation.
"Led in Group of Friends" was the lecture theme of Ms. Takashima of Kurume Branch who has been living her life in the Branch for 32 years.

She vividly appeals how she thanks to the Group in building her character in her 70-year life.
There is a day care group in Kumamoto Branch. A mother of the 6-years old class composed a celebrate song of the 70th anniversary. The members sang the song:

"Thinking, living, and praying.
We are here to share the delight to proceed together.
Open the window toward the sun light, from today to tomorrow.
Take hand-to-hand and pass on what we have learned during the 70 years."
We then enjoyed a tea break with Chiffon cake and lemon grass herb tea.

Kurume members are working busily during the break in changing the tables. On the left is Ms. Oda who moved to Kurume from Oita. It is very glad to see a member, with whom I learned together, working hard in a new Branch.
One of Kurume members performs a picture-story show of "Let's keep accounts." It is a good way to appeal the importance of the house accounts.

After that, a member from Okinawa introduced how they study on the recording of saving money.
We took a short break until the night meting.

I looked around the works of each Branch. The left picture shows the tapestry made by Kurume Branch, showing a scene of Chikugo River. It took one and a half year, they said.
Here are items in an emergency bag. We Oita Branch displayed an emergency hood made of towel cloth.
The bag is for an emergency hospitalization, included are:
pajamas, underwear, towels, toothbrush, and a set of chopstick. I think it is one of the important items. This set was displayed at the corner of Kumamoto Branch.

After a big dinner in the hall, all the attendants joined night meetings from seven to eight. We learned house accounts.

I finally returned a room allotted to Oita Branch. After bathing in a large hot spa, we took tea and talked about today's meeting or the preparation for housekeeping and family budget course to be held soon. Night went on.

We slept in a small room, just like a school excursion.

October 6, 2000: The second day
Program: Second day October 6 (Fri)
*Worship  Toshiko Fujiwara, Hymn #27, #234A
       Bible, The Letter of Paul to the Romans
       Writings A letter to the friend
               "Chaos and order"
*On regular meetings.
*Viewing back the life (clothing and environment.)
*From two-days discussions.
*Report and notice.
*Kingdom of Group of Friends.

Today's attendants: 118

Ms. Fujiwara of Central Committee holds a worship service.
Enthusiastic discussions continue in each meeting.
Ms. Kurihara of Saga Branch presented "How to make the best use of lives of things." She has been working hard since 1960 entry in making handwork of clothing.

She displayed many products like this, including a 30-year-old blouse still in favorite use, a shirt for her husband made from her mother's old Kimono, a rug embroidered with wool, and a patchworked cap, and others.
During the discussion, Ms. Yasunaka and Ms. Fujiwara of the Central Committee give the speakers proper advise. The study meeting was very useful for us who are distressed and walking ahead.

Ms. Yasunaka is on the left and Ms. Saito of Kyushu Block Committee is on the right.
The session approaches to the end. Ms. Yamasaki, the general leader of Kitakyushu Branch, appreciates all Kurume members and promised to open the next year meeting in Kitakyushu City.
All the program of Kyushu Block Session in the year of 2000 was over. We were presented tasty-looking homemade dumplings by Kurume Branch members.

All attendants now head to their home town. Kurume members clean up the site.
The hotel is located in the foot of beautiful Mino mountain range. It was a pity that we couldn't go out of the hotel even a step, however.

We took a we-were-there picture in front of the hotel: from right, Iwahashi, Anan, Matoba, Watanabe, and me.

The train runs through Chikugo plain colored with golden rice paddies.
Some of them are already cropped. I came back home at eight p.m.

The session gave me an appreciation for the 70th anniversary and new courage to step out to the 21st century coming soon.