Thousands attend His Holiness the Dalai Lama's 70th Birthday events in Tokyo

Office of Tibet, Tokyo, July 13, 2005

Tokyo, Japan -- Ten days of celebrations for the 70th Birth Anniversary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama were held in the Japanese capital of Tokyo. The events were organized by The Liason Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for East Asia, based in Tokyo.

<< The Dalai Lama turned 70 on July 6

The celebratory events were launched with a concert on 1st July before a packed audience by noted Tibetan and Japanese artists including Techung and Sherab Wangmo as well as the world-renowned chants of the Gyuto Monastery led by the Grand Chant Master Rev. Thupten Jigmey. The interest in the concert was such that tickets to the event had been sold out days earlier.

A reception dinner party celebrating His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Birthday was held on 2nd July at Hotel Okura, one of the most well regarded Hotels in Tokyo. The party was attended by over two hundred friends of Tibet including Members of the Japanese Parliament and celebrated artists. The attendees were addressed by Chope Paljor Tsering - the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for East Asia, and Seishu Makano - the president of the Parliamentary support group for Tibet which has seventy members.

Also beginning on 2nd July and continuing for nine days, a unique live exhibition of the creation of the Sand-Mandala of Avaloketesvara by four Gyuto monks at the Aida Mitsuo Museum in the center of Tokyo city was held. The Sand-Mandala of Avaloketesvara was chosen for this occasion as Tibetans believe the Dalai Lamas to be manifestations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion - Avaloketesvara.

The Sand-Mandala exhibition was accompanied by an exhibition of Tibetan thangka paintings of Buddhas, Buddhist deities and Buddhist Masters, portraits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, images of Tibet's landscape by Japanese photographers, and showings of documentaries about Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Each evening, talks by well-known Japanese public figures were held. Speakers comprised of the celebrated actor Mr. Takaaki Enoki, the distinguished scientist Dr. Kazuo Murakami, Dr. Tsewang Nishikura ? the first Tibetan practitioner of western medicine in Japan, the respected journalist Mrs. Mitsuko Shimomura, the distinguished film director Mr. Jin Tatsumura, the parliamentarian Seishu Makano and the world-renowned designer Mr. Kohei Sugiura. The public's enthusiasm was tremendous with hundreds attending the exhibition every day, with nearly a thousand visitors on 9th July alone.

On a number of evenings, the public's interest in the Sand-Mandala exhibition and the talks were such that the venue overflowed and many only had standing space. What was particularly special about the response of the Japanese public to the Sand-Mandala exhibition, as the Gyuto monks observed, was the sense of genuine faith and enthusiasm of many attendees above just simple curious interest.

On 10th July, the end of the celebrations were marked by the dismantling of the Sand-Mandala and the pouring of the sand into Tokyo's Sumida river ? a stark and poignant reminder of the impermanence of all that exists. Hundreds watched, a number with teary eyes as the Gyuto monks' chants reverberated in the air and the sand poured out in wisps, dancing with the breeze infront of the Tokyo skyline, before dissolving into the flowing water.

Representative Chope Paljor Tsering will leave for Korea on 14th July with the Gyuto monks. A Sand-Mandla Exhibition will be held in the South Korean capital of Seoul in conjunction with His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Birthday celebrations there. This will be the first time His Holiness the Dalai Lama's birthday is celebrated in Korea on such a scale. The President of the Chogye Order, which is the largest Buddhist order in Korea, will inaugurate the Celebratory Exhibition on 15th July. The exhibition will continue for a week.