Shinnyo-en Annual Training: Reflect, Recharge, Refocus

February 04, 2018
Tokyo, Japan

Every January, Shinnyo-en practitioners gather at their local temples and other locations around the world for Annual Training – an opportunity to recharge by drawing fresh inspiration and to refocus on a renewed course toward achieving spiritual goals. Shinnyo-en shares this practice with adherents of many religious traditions, who end the year with a period of discipline, study, and renewal of determination.

The Shinnyo-en Annual Training for 2018 focused on the 80th anniversary of the building of the first Shinnyo-en temple, Shinchoji, in Tachikawa, Japan. When Shinchoji was built, it was with just a handful of practitioners who were inspired to follow the teaching of Shinnyo-en Founders, Shinjo and Tomoji Ito. The 2018 Annual Training used the story of the founding of Shinchoji to encourage Shinnyo-en practitioners to the challenge of making a new start for themselves and their communities.

Annual Training for Shinnyo-en is a contemporary practice rooted in the ancient Japanese tradition of engaging in austerities during the coldest part of the year in order to develop oneself mentally, physically and spiritually. The intention was to aim towards a state of enlightenment and develop one’s heart and mind through tests of physical endurance. In Shinnyo-en, today, Annual Training provides an opportunity to renew practitioners’ determination to have lives based on loving compassion and the altruistic, selfless wish to help others do the same.

Shinnyo-en Annual Training has been practiced continuously since 1936. In 2018, thousands of Shinnyo-en practitioners participated at more than 900 locations in 50 countries around the world, focusing on the global theme of finding inspiration in the Shinchoji story, but also responsive to local communities.

For examples, the Paris, France temple supplemented its Annual Training with a program coordinated with the Musee Guimet which has one of the largest collections of Asian art outside of Asia. In New York City, during the Annual Training period Shinnyo-en participated in activities of the United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week, co-hosting an event, titled The Art of Peace, together with the International Day of Yoga Committee. In White Plains, New York, also coinciding with Annual Training, Shinnyo-en participated in the U.N. Interfaith Harmony Week observances at an interreligious prayer service held at a local synagogue.

However, Shinnyo-en practitioners also committed to their 2018 Annual Training in challenging circumstances. Shinnyo-en practitioners gathered in a private home in Cochabamba, Bolivia amidst heavy flooding that seriously threatens the rural communities. Other private homes hosted Annual Training ranging from Ibiza Island in the Mediterranean to Burkina Faso in Africa.