クリスマスが近づいて、まちがにわかに活気付く今日この頃。古町をぶらぶらと歩いていると、旧大和の前でラッパを吹いている二人組みの男性を発見！近づいてみることにしました。看板には「救世軍 社会鍋」の文字が。むむ？ラッパできよしこの夜などを演奏しながら、合間に「今年も社会鍋の季節です、ご協力よろしくお願いします」の声が聞こえます。 軍服だし、ラッパ吹いてるし、救世軍って書いてあるし・・・ んん、何となく怪しい気がする・・・ なんだろうか？
I got up the courage to talk to him.
-Excuse me. What are you doing?
-haa. What, what is the Salvation Army? Is it an army?
It is not an army. It is a fundraising organisation called Social Pot, and we have branches all over the country. We donate the money collected from you to the right places.
Recently, we have been donating to typhoons in the Philippines, etc. We did our best to support the victims of 3.11, even though it was very difficult.
-It's a charitable organisation.
Yes, it was. It was actually a donation that was used to support the elderly living alone in the community, the needy, etc. Recently there have been a lot of disasters in Japan and around the world. We have our hands full there. We also donated to the tornado disaster in Ibaraki.
-There have been a lot of disasters recently. Were you originally working for the local community?
Yes. We collect the donations once at our headquarters and then they are allocated to the branches to use for local relief. Click here (flyer and brochure) if you like.
-Around this time of year, do you also do a social hotpot in Niigata every year?
Yes. We are allowed to do this here at the end of the year.
-Thank you very much. Good luck.
The Salvation Army was a 147-year-old Christian organisation!
The person who spoke to me was a very pleasant man, with a strong feeling that he was doing it for the good of society. However, I still couldn't shake the suspicion... nuh-uh. So I did a little research and found out that the Salvation Army is a historic organisation, founded 147 years ago.
The Salvation Army is a Christian (Protestant) denominational organisation that promotes evangelism (i.e. religious activities), social welfare, education and medical services in 126 countries and territories worldwide. In Japan, it is affiliated with the Japan Evangelical Alliance. It is famous for its activities, which are organised on the model of a military force, and for the 'Social Pot' fund-raising events held at the end of the year, mainly at Christmas. (From wikipedia.)
Ah. So it was 'famous'. And it's a very serious organisation, working in 126 countries around the world, isn't it? I didn't know that... The leaflet I received said.
The Salvation Army (The Salvation Army) in your town, for you. The Salvation Army social pots are held in major cities across Japan, from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south. In Tokyo, they are held in Ueno, Ginza, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Shibuya. Short-term social pots are also held in Yaesu, Shibuya Dogenzaka, Hachioji and Tachikawa. If you see a social pot when you are out and about, we would be grateful for your help. The Salvation Army is providing a variety of support at the end of this year, including Christmas in the affected areas and support for people living on the streets with social pot funds. (From Salvation Army leaflet)
I'm really sorry for doubting you. I am sorry for that. Is the Salvation Army perhaps a common activity for people who have lived in Niigata for a long time? Maybe I am the only one who didn't know.
Salvation Army website: http://www.salvationarmy.or.jp/index.php?FrontPage
However, you are still a bit taken back when you hear the word 'army', aren't you? As to why it is an 'army', the Salvation Army website says.
In 1865, William Booth, an English Methodist minister, then aged 36, felt God's call to work for the salvation of the people of east London. （He soon found himself in charge of a rapidly developing movement that would eventually be called The Christian Mission. Its organisation and discipline were heavily influenced by military conventions: in 1878, William Booth was suddenly inspired to coin the phrase 'We are not a Volunteer Army, but a Salvation Army', which immediately captured the hearts of his close associates. This immediately captured the hearts of his fellow workers. （The Salvation Army is not an imitation of the army, but the army way". (From the Salvation Army website)
In a nutshell, when running a volunteer organisation, it adopts the discipline of the military so as not to be naïve or half-hearted. It is not just a charitable organisation, but a volunteer organisation that is desperately committed to its mission, just like the army. The name "Salvation Army" sounds somewhat more reliable when you hear it like this.
You are giving back to the community in Niigata!
Of the approximately 280,000 yen spent in 2012, approximately 190,000 yen was spent on 'comfort activities in the Niigata area'. On the other hand, approximately 30,000 yen was spent on the 'Central Disaster Fund' and 26,000 yen on fundraising costs, which is by far the largest amount of support for Niigata!
Activities in the Niigata region include: 'livelihood independence support', approx. 80,000 yen. 'Support for unauthorised facilities': approximately 110,000 yen. We do not know the details of their activities, but it appears that they provide support to those in need. The flyer also included the date and time of the meeting and a map. It seems to be an open gathering, so if I get a chance I will try to go.
For those of you who have never heard of the Salvation Army, if you see a couple of guys in military uniforms, blowing trumpets and putting down social pots in front of the Old Yamato in Old Town at the end of the year, don't be afraid. And if you agree with their activities, why not donate?
Writer Yorimitsu Karasawa(Niigata writer/researcher)