Not far from our church is a Rikko Kai, a campus consisting of a large preschool and a dormitory for housing foreign students. Our pastor is the chaplain of the preschool and gives a weekly message to the children as well as a monthly message to the parents.
Though the organization drifted toward the secular over the years, Rikko Kai has a fascinating history as an organization founded by Japanese Christians over 100 years ago. Outside the building stand the busts of two prominent figures in Rikko Kai history; Pastor Hyodayu Shimanuki, who founded Rikko in 1897 under the slogan “Spiritual and Physical Salvation of the Japanese people.” and Mr. Shigeshi Nagata, who changed the vision of the school to train people in mainly agricultural skills in order to send them overseas to South American countries like Brazil and Peru. If you ever wondered how so many Japanese immigrants made it to South America, Rikko Kai was one of the organizations responsible for helping send them.
The Christian foundation of Rikko Kai can be seen in its logo which contains a cross and also in its name 力行 which translates roughly to “Go in power”.
The preschool is very large, almost 500 children. Part of the draw of Rikko is that they are a play-based preschool that is suitable for children of all kinds. Rather than the focused learning type of preschool that not every child is a good fit to attend, Rikko is a welcoming environment for children with special needs or learning disabilities.
In recent years, Rikko Kai had been losing touch with its Christian roots, but lately, there has been a resurgence in a desire to return to them. Bringing in our pastor as the school chaplain was a big part of that, but the staff and parents of the children have been asking for more Christian education and meetings that resemble church service. Our prayer is that Rikko remains a place where kids of all kinds can find the love and acceptance of Christ and that the staff and families of Rikko continue to grow in their desire for spiritual things.