History of the Bahá'í Faith in Japan 1914-1938Barbara R. Sims.
Tablets Received From ‘Abdu'l-Bahá
While I was staying in Montclair, New Jersey, on March 8, 1919, I received three Tablets from the Beloved Master. Captain Tudor-Pole, who was with the British army in Palestine, brought them with him from the Master in Haifa to Egypt, where he mailed them to me. Two Tablets were addressed to the spiritual children of Japan, Tokujiro Torii and Yuri Mochizuki, in answer to the letters they had sent to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá while I was with them, and the third Tablet was addressed to me. Yuri Mochizuki had the distinction of being the first of her sex in the Far East to receive that blessing from the Master.
‘Abdu'l-Bahá addressed Tokujiro Torii:
O thou possessor of a seeing heart! Although materially speaking thou art destitute of physical sight, yet, praise be to God, spiritual insight is thy possession. Thy heart seeth and thy spirit heareth. Bodily sight is subject to a thousand maladies and ultimately and assuredly will be obscured. Thus no importance may be attached to it. But the sight of the heart is illumined, it discerns and discovers the divine Kingdom and is everlasting and eternal. Praise be to God, therefore, that the sight of thy heart is illumined and the hearing of thy thought responsive.Translated by Shoghi Rabbani, Haifa, Palestine, December 27, 1918.
To Yuri Mochizuki, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote:
O thou beloved daughter! Thy letter was received and perused in the utmost joy, that, praise be to God, in the land of Japan the light of the love of God has appeared resplendently and a torch, such as thee, has been kindled, for thy heart overflows with the wine of the love of God and thy spirit is ablaze. Like unto a shrub thou art fresh and tender, growing and flourishing through the outpourings of the cloud of Bounty. My hope is that thou mayest soon bud and blossom and bring forth delectable fruits.Translated by Shoghi Rabbani, Haifa, Palestine, December 17, 1918.
The blessed Tablet addressed to me follows:
O thou daughter of the Kingdom! Although your letter has not yet been received, yet we do answer it. Praise be to God that in Japan thou hast been assisted in the accomplishment of a distinguished service. Thou hast raised the Call of the divine kingdom and hast led the people to an illumined world and a heavenly Cause. Thou hast become the cause of enlightenment and the wisher for the education of human souls. For those regions are in sheer need of divine Teachings, and are endowed with sufficient capacity. Those souls must be emancipated from the obscurity of blind imitations and be illumined by the light of heavenly instructions. Whosoever arises for such a work, divine confirmations shall assist him and the power of the Kingdom shall be made manifest.Translated by Shoghi Rabbani, Haifa, Palestine, December 27, 1918.
What a privilege was mine to forward the blessed Tablets to Japan!
Soon after I received the Tablets, a card came from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Secretary telling me to be present at the Bahá'í Convention to be held in New York, that a great happiness awaited me there. Although I was then unaware of its significance, when I received the card, a great happiness filled my heart and remained with me for several days.
In Montclair I had been guided to find the beloved
After the inspiration received at the wonderful Convention, I started westward, stopping in Toronto, where May Maxwell had asked me to meet her. During ten days I had the privilege of being with her and sharing in the Bahá'í work there. Reaching Chicago, I was met by Miss Lillian James and Albert Vail, who accompanied me to the Temple site where we prayed together. In Honolulu I was guided to remain for a month. After reaching Japan, the stay in Honolulu was confirmed by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá who wrote: "Remain for some days in Honolulu . . ."
Voyage to Japan
On August ninth I sailed from Honolulu for Japan. After bidding farewell to friends, I went to the deck and supplicated God's guidance that I might be led to whomsoever He willed. A young lady on the deck approached me and we talked together. The next morning a letter was handed me from Mrs. Ella Cooper of San Francisco. She wrote of a French young lady, Mme Charlotte Conte, who was traveling on the same steamer, and who had become interested in the Cause. It seemed she was the lady with whom I had spoken as we sailed from Honolulu. She had come from Paris and was on her way to Vladivostok to be married. At Niagara Falls she had met a Bahá'í from whom she heard of the Cause. In Chicago she had attended a Bahá'í meeting, and from there the friends directed her to Mrs. Ella Cooper in San Francisco. Through God's providence she had been guided to hear of the Divine Message, for which her soul seemed prepared. Mlle Conte introduced me to Dr. and Mrs. Shastri. Mrs. Shastri, before her marriage, was Miss Jensen of Omaha. There she had heard several Bahá'í speakers and had received some Bahá'í literature, which she was taking to her new home in Benares. She was eager to read my Bahá'í books, although not fully aware of the Divine Message. After she reached India we corresponded.
One day I left my copy of Some Answered Questions in my steamer chair on the deck, and returning found it gone. When I told Mlle Conte of it she said, "If it is a Bahá'í book, it will not be lost. . . ." It seemed that the deck steward had put it in the social hall, and there it was found by a lady who had heard of the Cause in Chicago, Mrs. Ernst, who was on her way to Manila. She found my name in the book and inquired for me. How wonderful was the guidance of God! She was eager to read the book and kept it during the remainder of the voyage. Early each morning she went to the upper deck and read for an hour.
With other passengers I was privileged to speak of the Cause, among whom was a Filipino doctor, to whom I gave some Bahá'í literature and urged him to try and have something published in the Manila papers. Also a Hollander and a Japanese, Mr. Bryan Yamashita, whom a friend in Honolulu had introduced to me just before sailing. He had once attended a Bahá'í meeting in Washington, D.C. and offered to help me in Japan. Through him I was later introduced to another Japanese, a banker from Yokohama. We met again several years later in Tokyo, when he took from his pocket the Bahá'í booklet I had given him on the steamer.
Arrival in Japan
We arrived at Yokohama on August nineteenth. Again I was in the land where the Master had bid me come with His confirmations! There I inquired at the Tourist Bureau for a place to stay until I could find a Japanese house in which to make a home. I was told that every hotel was full, but the clerk suggested I might go to the Station Hotel in Tokyo, as someone might be leaving. In my heart was a great longing to meet again Mrs. Ernst, but I did not know where she had gone. At the Station Hotel the manager informed me that all the rooms were occupied. Then suddenly he said, "You are Miss Alexander." I had once stayed in the hotel in Matsushima where he was a clerk. His attitude changed and he said if I would wait until evening, he could give me a room. In the morning, as I went from my room, the door of the adjoining room was open, and there I saw Mrs. Ernst. I felt assured it was divine guidance which brought us together again. We had a happy visit before she left, and I gave her a copy of The Divine Plan of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets to take to Manila, and encouraged her to spread the Bahá'í Cause there.
I was obliged to remain in the Station Hotel, where day and night the trains of the Empire came and went. I knew, though, that it did not matter where I was as long as I was under His guidance. The Bahá'í children, Mr. Torii, Mr. Fukutauki came there to see me. My work, I felt, was to first strengthen them, so that through them the Divine torch would blaze in Japan. Yuri San had just graduated from the Girls' High School, and was writing for a Japanese newspaper, the Yomiuri. She wrote a beautiful article about the Cause and my return to Japan, which was published in the paper. Mr. Torii brought a blind young man, Tomonaga Noto to see me. He had told him of the Bahá'í Message, and his heart was touched by the love of the Master. He was a poor young man who lost his sight when seven years old, and his home life had not been happy. Soon after he wrote a supplication to the Master.
Mr. Torii and Yuri San both wrote supplications to the Master after I reached Tokyo. Yuri San wrote hers in Japanese, which Mr. Torii translated into English. Their precious letters follow:
Letter from Yuri Mochizuki to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.
in Japan where we felt so lonely, for our dear Miss Alexander who left us alone two years ago, has come back to us again. Like a kind hearted shepherd, or like a gardener of beautiful flowers, she rears us who know nothing, and shows us the way to the Prophet of Love. And now she has come over the ocean from America to give her children strength and light. O how happy we are! We offer our hearty supplications to the Prophet of Love with our spiritual mother.
Letter from Tokujiro Torii to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.
43 Kyuden 3 Yaraicho, Ushigome
Several times I went to the Torii home, where I saw for the first time the precious child, Akira, "whose name," ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote, "shall be ever blest." God had destined for this child a spiritual service which appeared in later years.
At that time Mr. Yamamoto from Berkeley, California, was in Japan. His wife with their five little boys had come during the winter to visit his family in Yamaguchi province. There, shortly after the birth of a baby girl, she died of influenza and Mr. Yamamoto had come to take the four oldest boys with him back to Berkeley. The youngest boy and baby he left with his wife's sister. While in Tokyo he met the Bahá'ís and we bid him farewell when he sailed from Yokohama with his boys. It was difficult for him to care for them alone, but he was courageous. Later his wife's sister, with the baby girl went to Berkeley where she married him. Six children were born to this union, making a family of twelve children. The children by the first marriage were taught the Bahá'í teachings by Mrs. Kathryn Frankland.
Tokyo was crowded at that time and I was told that even a Japanese could not procure a house. I felt assured, though, that whatever God willed, He would guide me to. Then a friend, Miss Mary Denton, who had a home in Kyoto and taught in a Girls' Christian School there, invited me to stay with her for a time. As it was the only door that opened then, I accepted. Miss Denton knew of the Bahá'í Cause and of my Faith. She loved me but did not come under the Divine protection.
As I looked back afterwards at the time spent in the Station Hotel, I saw how the Cause of God had been assisted through my stay there. The hotel clerk, as well as the manager, became my friends, and later when the Japanese Bahá'í magazine was published, the hotel accepted it in their reading room.
During the weeks spent in Kyoto, day and night my heart was burning to spread His Message. One day I was guided to go to the Kyoto Imperial University, where I met the assistant librarian, Mr. Tamigiro Sasaoka. He gladly accepted Bahá'í books for the library, and until his death remained a friend to the Cause.
Through an introduction from Mr. Torii, I met in Osaka a blind Christian pastor, Mr. Kumagae, who was
While in Kyoto I received word from Mr. Roy Wilhelm that he was sending to Japan Mrs. Ida Finch, who would arrive in Yokohama on November twentieth. In order to meet her, I went to Tokyo. On the train I met a Japanese from the Boston Art Museum, who had been visiting his mother in Kyoto and was then returning to the United States. I spoke with him of the Bahá'í Cause and gave him some of the literature. He was very open-minded and appreciative, and before he left Japan I received from him a kind note.
The day Mrs. Finch arrived in Yokohama I was not able to greet her at the steamer but Yuri Mochizuki and some of the friends carrying with them the symbol of the Greatest Name, met and escorted her to Tokyo, where she joined me at the Imperial Hotel annex.
Mr. Torii and his family had already left Tokyo for Tsu-shi, Mie province, where he had a position to teach the blind. His little house in Tokyo had been taken by some students but the Bahá'ís were permitted to meet there until a permanent place could be found.
The Day of the Covenant
The Bahá'í meeting day, Friday, came that week on November twenty-sixth, which was the nineteenth anniversary of my spiritual birth in Rome, Italy. At noon on that day I had the great bounty of receiving from the Master a blessed Tablet, and with it a Divine power was eased. The portion of the Tablet which refers to the work in Japan follows:
O thou daughter of the Kingdom! Thy letters were received. The travel to Japan was in the utmost necessity. Thou hast undoubtedly met the attracted maid servant of God, Mrs. Maxwell, before sailing to Japan, for that maid servant of God is ablaze with the Fire of the love of God. Whosoever meets her feels from her association the susceptibilities of the Kingdom. Her company uplifts and develops the soul.
When we held the meeting that afternoon, I felt the power of the blessed Tablet which overcame the shadows of darkness. At the meeting was a blind young man, Keniiro Ono. The eldest of twelve children of a laborer in Kyoto, he lost his sight when three years old from fever. He was determined to go to school and came to Tokyo where he entered a Christian Mission School, the only blind student in the school. In the Torii home he had heard of the Bahá'í teachings. He had doubts and many questions to ask, which showed his capacity and intelligence. From that day he continued his search for the Truth until his inner sight was opened.
The same day in her home in Montreal, Canada, my beloved spiritual mother, May Maxwell, was writing a letter to the Bahá'ís of Japan. Her letter follows:
716 Pine Avenue,
one of you dear ones of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá — I am humbly in His Spirit and Life.
Mrs. Finch and I stayed in the annex of the Imperial Hotel until a permanent place could be found and a home established. I knew that all was in God's hands and He could open all doors. I had promised Yuri San that when I returned to Tokyo, she could live with me. In December I heard of a little Japanese house, which was soon to be vacated, and went immediately to see it before even the landlord knew the tenants were intending to leave. In this way, through His favor, I was enabled to procure it. Then I sent for the furniture which I had left in Japan.
In the meantime I had been to the Japan Women's College and met President Aso, who succeeded President Naruse. He kindly invited me to speak on "Woman's Problem from the Standpoint of the Bahá'í Revelation," to his association for the investigation of woman's problems, the night of December twenty-seventh, when they would hold their meeting. He asked me to write my talk which he would translate into Japanese. The association was composed of teachers, most of whom were women. Mrs. Finch and Yuri San accompanied me to the meeting. Returning to the hotel that night, I felt something dark was foreboding.
The next day when I expected to move to the little house, my bedding had not come. Mrs. Finch moved and I remained at the hotel. That night a fire broke out in the hotel annex and I was burned out. I wrote to a friend: "Did you know that I was burned out on the night of December twenty-eighth? My heart was not burned, though, and the Reality could never be taken from it. His words are eternal and will remain when all else perishes, and He came near to me for His love is beyond our knowledge. There was a great meaning in that fire. and all will be know for the Sun will shine in spite of all dark clouds."
Although my possessions were consumed in the fire, the only infinite sorrow I had was the loss of some of my precious original Tablets from the Master. I longed then to be with Him, and in His great mercy, He satisfied the desire of my heart. I received a letter from Fujita containing a Message to me from the Master, Carmel. Fujita wrote November 30, 1919 "Early yesterday morning the Master summoned me, so I had a short interview. While I was in His Presence I mentioned your wonderful work in Japan. The Master wishes me to convey to you that the Bounty of the Kingdom of God will assist your work in Japan."
When the dear Bahá'ís heard of my material loss, they sent me loving messages and Bahá'í literature, for mine was all burned with the exception of a folder containing a compilation I had made on the Covenant of God. The outer cover was soaked in water and covered with cinders, but the inside was unmarred. The only other piece of Bahá'í Writings which came out of the fire was a sheet of paper on which was a compilation of words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá concerning violation. This clearly answered what I had written ‘Abdu'l-Bahá after reaching Japan and asked Him for a sign.
A New Bahá'í Home in Tokyo
The Japanese home was small. Mrs. Finch and I each had a little room upstairs, while Yuri San and a woman who helped were on the first floor. It was in a crowded district of little shops and little children whose playground was the street, but spiritually great events came in that home.
Those were precious days, for they were the sunset days of the Beloved Master's presence on earth. Little did we realize then how He was pouring out His blessings on the friends in Japan, for soon He would no longer be with us. My heart was continually being strengthened through His great bestowals. A precious message came at that time to me from Him through Mrs. Corinne True of Chicago, dated ‘Akká, Palestine, July 24, 1919. "Convey my greetings and kindness to Miss Martha Root, Mrs. Hoagg, Miss Jack and Miss Alexander. These active souls are indeed the shining lamps of firmness and steadfastness and the victory of the Abhá Kingdom is their supporter. Ye shall consider that confirmations shall illumine these souls."
First Girls' Bahá'í Meeting in Japan
While in America I had supplicated that on my return to Japan with Yuri San we might work together for the women, but instead of women it was girls whom God guided to hear the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. As Yuri San had one free day a week, she chose Friday that we might have a Bahá'í meeting in the afternoon. The Girls' High School, where she had graduated was near the home and she arranged for me to give a talk in the school to the girls which she translated into Japanese. I wrote the talk out beforehand, so that she might study the translation. Our talk was blessed through His confirmations. After it one of the girls, Haruko Mori, came to me with great love. She was later blessed with a Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Yuri San invited any of the girls who wished to come, to the home on Friday afternoons when we would have meetings. As the girls knew very little English, she translated for them. We had very happy meetings. The girls learned some of Mrs. Waite's songs, as "Softly His Voice is Calling," "Great Day of God," "Tell the Wondrous Story," the "Benediction," and also some of the Bahá'í prayers.
Before Yuri San went to the newspaper office, each morning we read together a verse from the Hidden Words which she would learn the meaning of and translate into Japanese. In this way she translated all the Hidden Words into Japanese. At the time of the Fast she kept it with us, and was the first Japanese Bahá'í to observe it in Japan.
Soon after we were settled in the home, through the generosity of the beloved Bahá'í brother, Roy C. Wilhelm, the Bahá'í booklet of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, which he had compiled and had printed in the United States, was translated and published in Japanese. The translators were Mr. Daiun Inouye, a Buddhist priest, and Mr. Saiki, who had once been a Christian evangelist. These two enlightened men never met in person. During my first sojourn in Japan, I had met Mr. Saiki, whose home was in Fukuoka, Kyushu. My attention was called to him, as he had written a book in which he mentioned the Bahá'í Cause to which he was greatly attracted. In a Tablet to Mr. Torii, December 1918, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote: "Convey on my behalf the
Kenjiro Ono, the blind young man, was a frequent visitor in the home, especially during his spring vacation when he came almost daily and Mrs. Finch and I read to him from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's talks, and the book Ten Days in the Light of ‘Akká which he took down in Braille, as well as other Bahá'í teachings. Soon his inner sight was opened and he wrote a supplication to the Master. He had a beautiful bass voice and learned to sing many of Mrs. Waite's songs.
The following is a letter I wrote:
11 Ukyomachi, Yotsuya
The Tablet to Tomonaga Noto follows:
O thou wooer of Reality! Thy letter was received. Praise be to God, the sight of thy mind has been opened and thou hast acquired the power of spiritual healing. Thou has sought and found the Truth and hast been aware of Heavenly Mysteries.
Mr. Noto was so affected by the Master's love that he wrote his friends: "‘Abdu'l-Bahá declares Himself a Servant of God and proclaims His Life-giving Message to the whole world, yet He receives such unworthy letters as mine and answers their questions so clearly and kindly. What great generosity, what limitless mercy He has for us! At first I could not realize His great love, but now I acknowledge His limitless love for mankind."
A frequent visitor to the home during the winter and spring of 1920 was a Korean student, Oh Sang Sun. (See Chapter VI).
Japanese Girls Receive Tablets
May twenty-third came that year on Sunday, and we celebrated it by taking the girls who attended the Friday meetings to a park. There they wrote on cards in Japanese, messages to their ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. It was a great bounty to the Japanese people that the faithful and beloved Fujita served in ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's home and could translate the messages written to Him in Japanese. The Beloved Master replied to the girls' messages in a Tablet dated Haifa, August 19, 1920, as follows:
O ye daughters of the Kingdom! Your congratulation on the Feast has been received. Its perusal imparted joy and happiness. Through the Bounties of the Supreme Lord do I hope that these daughters of the Kingdom will, day by day, progress so that they may, like unto a magnet, attract the divine confirmations. I am always supplicating for you that ye may attain to the Most Great Bestowal and act and behave according to the Teachings of His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh. Upon you be the Glory of Abhá!
When the blessed Tablet reached us, I asked the girls, to whom the Tablet was addressed, to accompany
click for larger photo
These girls received two Tablets from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. The first can be seen on the table. They sent this picture to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and He answered with a second Tablet. The girl at the right, Miss Yuri Mochizuki (Furukawa) was the first Japanese woman to accept the Faith. Taken in Tokyo, 1920.
me to a photographer and have their photograph taken to send to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. On a table by their side, we placed the original Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. When He received the photograph, He again addressed these girls. The Tablet was dated January 11, 1921, and was received in Tokyo, March 3, 1921. It was addressed:
To the daughters of the Kingdom, Otoe Murakami, Kimiko Hagiuara, Kazu Fukusawa, Haruko Mori, Yuri Takao, Yuri Mochizuki, Japan. Unto them be the Glory of God, the Most Glorious! He is the Most Glorious!
We often received the young men students and had gatherings of them, especially on the Feast days, which were happy events. On several of these occasions they signed their names to loving messages which we sent to the Beloved Master. In reply He poured out His great bounty to them in Tablets. The first of these was dated Haifa, Palestine, February 1920. He wrote.
O ye the honored souls! Your letter of congratulation arrived and imparted joy because its contents indicated that the Sun of Reality hath begun Its radiation upon those regions. It is my hope that that region may get illumination and the Heavenly Dawn may break forth. This will be attained through the power of Faith in the Covenant. Therefore we are expecting that every one of those friends may in that country become like a brilliant candle, and so the Light of Guidance may emanate upon the hearts.
unto a continent. I also congratulate you on (the advent of) this Blessed Day. Upon ye be the Glory of the Most Glorious.
The second Tablet, which was dated Haifa, August 19, 1920, was revealed to nine persons, eight of whom were young men. It follows:
O seekers for the Truth! Praise God that you have heard the celestial call, seen the ray of the Sun of Truth, followed the right Direction and reached the longed-for Home!
One day a girl from the Tsuda English School, Miss Mikae Komatsu, came to our Friday meeting. As she entered the room I felt a wave of joy. Yuri San was absent that day, so she took her place and translated for the girls. She was eighteen years old. From that day her soul was quickened by the Divine Revelation. She not only learned the Prayers by heart, but said them three times daily, thus she soon became a flaming torch and brought her school friends to hear the Bahá'í Message. During the summer she poured out her heart in letters to me. On July twenty-sixth, she wrote: "Dearest Mother, I cannot find any words to thank you for your kindness. O the kindest mother! How glad I am to be with you and to talk about the Greatest Power. You, the most merciful mother guided me to God. I always think of you and thank you for it. I do not doubt that God will assist me in any matter and I am always with God.
"Praise be to God, the Fragrance of the Greatest Rose is scattering all over the world and the gentle Shower from Heaven is fertilizing us. How happy we are! How Joyful! Joyful! Joyful! I feel I am born again.
"I shall be very happy if I can do any service to you. (I believe my service to you is likewise to God.) I will do my best to spread this Blessed Message because, you see, those who do not know His blessings are very unhappy, I think. Please let me do something that will help you. I will willingly do whatever it may be. I feel your home is just like mine. I am always afraid I stay too long and bother you. . . . but I am your dearest daughter, as you know, isn't it? Let us always say the Greatest Name. . . ."
In another letter dated August 14, 1920, she wrote in part: "Christ said that, 'He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.' I can quite understand the meaning recently. God makes no difference between us. Once I read these sentences: 'Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!' I feel surely we must make haste to let the people who do not know this greatest Love of God through Bahá'u'lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, and are traveling the dark journey of life, dropping their heads, know the Sunshine on this earth. Often they raise their heads and look for the Sunshine, but soon they shake their heads and droop them again. I see tears in their eyes. They are disappointed and cannot raise by themselves. I feel we who know Bahá'u'lláh must support their drooping heads and place them where the warm sunshine and refreshing shows cheer their lives. Then they can be born again and will be our garden seeds, and these golden seeds will produce the same seeds as we have produced."
Miss Komatsu wrote heartfelt supplication to the Master and He replied to her in a blessed Tablet, dated Mount Carmel, Palestine, September 9, 1920. Her Tablet follows:
O thou blessed soul! Thy letter was received. It was not a letter. It was a scent bag of the muskdeer from which the fragrance of the love of God was perceived. After I read it, I turned to the Kingdom of the Merciful and supplicated so that thy soul may become purified, that thy heart may be converted into a brazier of the fire of the love of God; that in every moment thou mayest find the Light of Truth radiating, that thou mayest kindle the lamp of Guidance, that thou mayest seek heavenly joy and happiness, and mayest consecrate thy life to the service of the Heavenly Father. I feel the utmost kindness towards thee, and I pray, through the infinite Bounties for a spiritual dynamic force and a heavenly blessing unto thee. Convey to all the friends my greetings and love. Unto thee be the Glory of Abhá!
On July twenty-eighth, I received from the Beloved Master a blessed Tablet, dated Haifa, June, 1920, as follows:
O thou who art the daughter of the Kingdom! Thy letter has been received. Praise be unto God that in those regions the Breezes of the Rose-Garden of Abhá are spreading. It is my hope that they (those regions) may become perfumed; the Breeze of favor waft, the lights of guidance radiate and the graces of the Merciful be unveiled.
Extend my great kindness and praise to the maidservant of God Fuyo (Yuri) Mochizuki, so that she may with a divine power, a heavenly purpose and Godly motive, start her writing and that the breaths of the Holy Spirit may help her pen.
The first contact with Chinese was made in July, 1920. (See Chapter V).
In August I went to the mountain resort, Karuizawa, where many missionaries had summer homes. Five years before Martha Root and I had gone there to meet a friend of Roy Wilhelm's, but could stay only two days as Martha as leaving Japan soon after. I felt then that I should go there and stay for two weeks another time. As I started on the train from Tokyo, Martha, who never sought rest, was continually my inspiration. I went to the hotel where we had stayed and was given the same room I had occupied when with her. The blind brother Ono San, as we called him, was in Karuizawa that summer attending a summer school, and so I arranged for him to come every morning early to an arbor in the garden where I read to him for an hour before he went to school. During those mornings we read, The Seven Valleys by Bahá'u'lláh. One Sunday morning, under inspiration, he bravely went to both Japanese and foreign churches and asking to speak after the service was over, he called the people to the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. He was then twenty-one years old. On August nineteenth, he dictated a message for me to send to the friends in Germany, as follows: "Let us all unite in love! There is no Europe, Asia, Africa or America, but the world is one under the perfect bounty. Let us arise for the purpose of making a new civilization, giving up old things. Our reconstruction does not need military energy, for its quality can be perfectly changed through the Power of God. Oh, the time has come when all the world is hungry and thirsty. Let us be courageous messengers of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá! Let us carry fresh water and fresh food to the hungry! Let us knock at the door of the sleeping hearts! Let us pray to God for Germany, Japan, Russia and all oriental countries."
During the time spent in Karuizawa, my heart was burning to give God's Message to the souls whom I could find. He alone knows what seed may in the future spring forth there.
Returning to Tokyo, I began corresponding with a blind woman, Mrs. Kazuko Higashi, who had lost her hearing also for three years. Mr. Torii had been a school mate of hers and sent her a copy of the Japanese Braille Bahá'í book, A Message of Light. Reading its pages with her fingertips her soul became awakened and she received spiritual sight and found her Lord. Mr. Torii, through correspondence, introduced her to me. With the help of Ono San, who translated and transcribed into Japanese Braille my letters to her, and then again her letters to me into English, we were enabled to correspond. She wrote me: "I do not need bodily sight and hearing now because I am living in the spiritual world. It is selfishness that makes me weep in darkness, but it is the Divine Spirit which places me in a bright, peaceful world. . . . How foolish I was to spend these three years since I lost my bodily hearing, weeping and suffering and feeling lonely." In another letter she wrote: "Dear sister, during the night of September fourth, I saw ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. He came to my home. I could feel clearly His hands and wrinkled face. He had on a white robe and was praying a long time in a foreign tongue I could not understand, but the first words of the prayer were in Japanese. He said aloud, 'God will always protect you'. Even now I can clearly see His wrinkled face and hands and white robe, and I can hear His tender Voice in prayer. Since then I have felt stronger and stronger and I love ‘Abdu'l-Bahá more and more. What a loving Father He is! How merciful He is to visit sightless and hearingless me in a dream in my humble bed, and He gave me the greatest happiness, peace and faith. Now the spring of thankfulness springs from my heart. When I awoke I felt His care of me. . . . I feel unhappiness has become the seed of happiness and I wonder at my own present life." Again she wrote: "Dear sister, I have seen you again and again in dreams and one night you were telling me about the Bahá'í teachings. I love you very much. Even though one has eyes and ears he cannot see ‘Abdu'l-Bahá because He is far away, but I could see Him and that is the utmost happiness in the world. Moreover I can see you so often. Isn't it wonderful! That bounty comes from God and I thank ‘Abdu'l-Bahá heartily."
In October the Bahá'í Temple picture was first reproduced in a Tokyo Japanese newspaper, the one which was considered the best and had the largest circulation of any Tokyo newspaper. It was afterwards copied by a newspaper in the northern island of Hokkaido. Many articles also were published about the Cause both in the English and the Japanese newspapers at that time not only in Tokyo, but throughout the Empire. There were also magazine articles, especially in Esperanto.
The Star of the East
One day in October I had been out and returning to the home found Yuri San and Ono San in earnest conversation. When I asked what they had been talking about, they replied that they were talking of publishing a Japanese Bahá'í magazine. That day was the beginning, and in a week the magazine was born. We witnessed the power in the words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in the Tablet I had received in July, in which He wrote of Yuri San's starting her writing. God had endowed her with talent to write and He desired it to be used in His service. Yuri San and I consulted about the form and title of the magazine, and the name, Star of the East came to us. Ono San wrote in a letter. "Now it seems that the reign of Grace is coming upon this land. The beautiful dawn of Light has reached us and the waves of the light from the Star of the West have attained the East and our little magazine has been born." Yuri San became its editor and Ono San assisted her. On October nineteenth, it appeared in print and continued to be published each month on the nineteenth day, for two years. In a letter to the friends, on February 9, 1921, I wrote: "You will rejoice I know to hear good news from the Far East. In October a little Japanese Bahá'í magazine was suddenly born, and yesterday from the home of our Beloved came a message in regard to it. In a letter to Yuri Mochizuki, our dear young sister and editor of the magazine, Mr. Fujita writes: 'The copies of the Star of the East were received and presented to the Master. He was very pleased with your work.' In the same mail also came a
Seven Tablets to Japanese
On October nineteenth, the day the magazine was first published, we received three blessed Tablets from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. The dear girl, Haruko Mori, who was seventeen years old, had written the Master a little supplication in Japanese, which Mr. Fujita translated. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá replied to her:
O thou beloved maid servant of God! Praise be unto God, that through the guidance of Miss Alexander thou couldst hear the Call of God. Then strive as far as thou art able to spread the divine Teachings, so that thou mayest become distinguished with this great Bestowal among the women of the world. Unto thee be the Glory of Abhá!Haifa, August 10, 1920.
To Kenjiro Ono, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote:
O thou who art a favored servant at the Threshold of the Most High! Thy letter was received. Verily, verily hast thou suffered much in thy life time. Do not thou be grieved because of the loss of thy sight. Praise be unto God, that thy insight is keen. Do not thou lament over thy poverty, for the Treasury of the Kingdom is thine. Do not thou worry that thou couldst not study in the material schools, because thou hast received lessons in the Verses of the Oneness (of God) in the Divine University. Offer thou thanks to God that thou couldst finally attain to Truth. Then be thou firm and steadfast so that the doors of the Most Great Bestowal may be opened unto thy face. The greatest of all questions is steadfastness and firmness. Every tree which is firmly rooted grows. Unto thee be the Glory of Abhá! Haifa, August 10, 1920.
To Yuri Mochizuki, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote:
O thou beloved maid servant of God! Do thou observe the divine Bounty! We are in Haifa and thou in Tokyo, nevertheless how (our) hearts have become related to one another! This is through the power of the Kingdom which has made the East and West embrace each other. I feel the utmost kindness towards thee. If thou art able to write the story of Qurratu'l-‘Ayn as a drama, thou are permitted to write it. Unto thee be the Glory of Abhá! Haifa, August 10, 1920.
The Tablet to Yuri Mochizuki, which we received on February 8, 1921, was translated into Japanese in Haifa, by Mr. Fujita at ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's command. The Tablet follows:
O thou art a new grown tree on the meadow of Truth! Thy letter dated October 14, 1920, has been received. As it was indicative of the susceptibility of thy conscience, it became the cause of joy.
of the world of humanity. All mankind are the trees of the divine garden and the Gardener of this orchard is the Most High, the All-Sustainer. The hand of His Favor hath planted these trees, irrigated them from the cloud of Mercy and reared them with the energy of the Sun of Truth.Translated by Azizullah S. Bahádur, Mount Carmel, Palestine, December 9, 1920.
The Tablet to Kenjiro Ono, which as received the same day as the one to Yuri Mochizuki follows:
O thou heavenly person! Praise be unto God that having rent asunder the veils and having seen the rays of the Sun of Truth, thou didst turn thine attention to the Center of the Covenant. Rest thou assured that thou wilt be confirmed to give sight to the blind and hearing power to the deaf, and even thou wilt live life to the dead! Unto thee be the Glory of Abhá!Haifa, Palestine December 8, 1920.
‘Abdu'l-Bahá answered Mr. Torii's second supplication to Him addressing him:
To the one who longs to enter the Kingdom of God, Mr. Torii — May his soul be enraptured!
Besides these Tablets, Mr. Saiki, an illumined soul whose name ‘Abdu'l-Bahá had twice mentioned in Tablets to Mr. Torii and to me, received a blessed Tablet. He was made very happy by it and had both the original Persian and the English translation published in the largest newspaper of Osaka, Mainichi Shimbun. The Tablet follows:
O thou who art seeking the Truth! Thy letter has been received. Thou hast taken much pains in inventing the new Japanese writing. Thou hast rendered a service to the world of humanity. May God reward thee!Mount Carmel, Palestine, October 15, 1920.
Christmas Tree Party
Shortly before Christmas I suddenly experienced a joy and an inspiration to invite the children of the shopkeepers, who lived on the narrow street which led to our home, to a Christmas tree party. These children whose homes were the little shops and playground, the street, probably knew only the name of Buddha. I procured a large tree and candles to place on it, also oranges and presents for the children. A few days before Christmas, Yuri Mochizuki went with me to the shops,
There seemed a providence connected with the beautiful photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá which came to me at the time of the first Christmas party, and was in the photograph taken of the children. In the fall I had been invited to have lunch at the home of an American couple in Yokohama. A mutual friend had brought us together, as she thought the husband, who was spiritual, would be interested in the Cause. As I was leaving my home to go to Yokohama, suddenly I felt I should take with me a little photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and give it to the friends. It was my last copy, but I followed the guidance and took it with me. The day before Christmas a wooden box came for me from Yokohama. Opening it, to my great surprise I saw a beautiful large framed photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. I was filled with wonder as to who could have sent me such a picture. Then I found a note enclosed from the American friends in Yokohama. They wrote, that as they were having an enlargement made of the photograph for themselves, they thought I might like to have one also. The photograph remained in the home after the great earthquake of September 1, 1923, when I took it with me to Korea, and left it there with the young Korean friends.
There is another story connected with the luncheon that day in Yokohama. When I reached the home, I found a young Englishman there who had also been invited to lunch. At first, a feeling of disappointment passed over me, as I thought I would not be able to talk of the Cause. I did not learn until afterwards that the wife had invited him especially to meet me, as they had spoken of spiritual things the day before. The young man had been in World War I and said he had no faith. I felt I had no power of speech and prayed to be able to talk, for I realized the beautiful soul of the young man. We talked during the lunch hour, and soon after he was obliged to leave for his work. As I shook hands with him, I said I was sorry I could not have talked better. He replied, "You were wonderful!" Then he asked me if I would call on his invalid mother. We exchanged letters afterwards, and he arranged for me to meet his mother. I had several happy visits with her, but never met her son again. Sometime afterwards, as I awoke one morning early, I felt the young man near, and then came the guidance that I must write to his mother. Later, when I opened the morning paper, I learned that the night before he had been killed. A robber had entered the home, and when he tried to put him out, he was stabbed and died from loss of blood. I wrote his parents and told them about my visit with their son, and my realization of his beautiful soul. The father wrote me later that my letter had been a great comfort to them.
Our beloved brother, Roy C. Wilhelm, who sent Mrs. Ida Finch to Japan to assist in the work of the Cause for a year, wrote in the fall of 1920, when the year had expired, and asked her to return to the United States. As she wished to remain in Tokyo, she moved to an apartment where she had rooms to teach English, and remained there until the summer of 1923, when Martha Root sent for her to join her in Peiping. Shortly before the great earthquake of September 1, 1923, she returned to Tokyo, after which she was taken to the United States through the American government.
Martha Root wrote me she was collecting appreciations of the Bahá'í Faith from notable persons in the different countries, and asked me if I would procure some from Japanese. The desire to assist Martha inspired me to arrange for interviews with several distinguished Japanese, among whom was Marquis Shigenobu Okuma, the founder of Waseda University. He received me most kindly and was pleased to hear of the Bahá'í Faith. He told me he was glad I was in his country for the purpose of spreading the Bahá'í teachings, and accepted from me some Japanese Bahá'í literature. When I came to leave, he presented me with a beautiful bouquet of roses. We spoke through an interpreter and the interview was taken down by a secretary and published afterwards in a Japanese magazine.
Prof. Yone Noguchi, known as the Japanese English poet, for his poetry in the English language, wrote an appreciation of the Bahá'í Faith. He came to my home one day to ask me if I would correct some of his English writings. I was very happy to do it, as it gave me an opportunity to tell him of the Bahá'í Faith. After we had several talks, he brought me one day something he had written about ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, and said I might use it wherever I wished. A portion of it follows: "I have heard so much about ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, whom people call an idealist,
Mr. Hirose, a student from the Imperial University, often visited the home. One day I arranged on a large sheet of heavy brown paper, a display of the Bahá'í Temple, consisting of photographs of the Temple plans and details of the ornamentation, together with descriptive articles about the temple taken from American newspapers and magazines. Then I asked Mr. Hirose if he would take it to the architecture department of his university. He was happy when he returned to tell me that the head of the department recognized in the plans a new form of architecture and was delighted. Afterwards in the Japanese Architecture magazine the professor had the photographs of the Temple plans and its ornamentation reproduced together with a short account of the Cause and the twelve basic Bahá'í principles.
Messages From ‘Abdu'l-Bahá
Prof. Shiroshi Nasu of the Imperial University, who heard of the Cause from Roy C. Wilhelm when living in West Englewood, New Jersey, had the bounty of receiving through Roy a message from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá who wrote: "The world of nature is darkness but the Heavenly Sun dissipates by Its Light this darkness that prevails over the world. Likewise the world of mind and of souls is a dark one, and nothing will illumine it save the rays of the Sun of Truth. My hope therefore is that thou mayest vivify the dead."
In the spring of 1921, I had the joy of receiving through Mr. C.M. Remey, a message from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, which came in a letter from him written at Candia on the Island of Crete, March 20, 1921, when en route to Europe from Palestine, where he had spent two months near the Beloved Master. His brother, Will, had joined him and he wrote: "The last days that we were in the Holy Land our Master was in Tiberias. He called us there for a couple of days' good-by visit . . . The evening of our arrival in Tiberias, one of the friends came unobserved to our room and told us that The Master was awaiting us. We were spirited into His room, a small tower room reached through an attic chamber, and there behind closed doors we had a soul-refreshing quarter of an hour. After greeting us He asked what I had heard about the Bahá'í work in Japan. I told him as much as I could remember of the news contained in your recent reports which had reached me, and then He spoke very beautifully of your service to the Cause. He told me that I should write to you and convey to you His love and spiritual salutations, then He said: 'Miss Alexander has gone to that part of the world (Japan) with great spiritual power and she has been confirmed by the angels of the Kingdom.' Then He went on to explain the meaning of 'angels of the Kingdom,' that they were not the supernatural beings imagined by some people, but that they signified the spiritual forces and powers of the Kingdom of God."
Another blessed Tablet reached me from the Master dated Haifa, August 2, 1921.
O thou who wanderest in the divine Path! In the path of God thou didst leave behind thy familiar country and traveled to those distant regions, so that thou mayest spread the Teachings of God and give the people the Glad Tidings of the Kingdom of God. Be assured that confirmations will reach thee and thou wilt become assisted in accomplishing a great service to the world of humanity. A thousand tidings reach thee! Thy brother, Ono San, also will be confirmed and with the utmost joy and happiness he will come back. Unto thee be the Glory of Abhá!
When the Tablet reached me, I was overcome with gratitude and thankfulness to the Beloved Master Who had heard the unwritten prayer of my heart and answered it in His great Mercy. The prayer was for the blind brother, Ono San. The Blessed Tidings from the Beloved Master reached my heart! The same date as my Tablet, another one was revealed by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá on August 2, 1921, to an American Negro Bahá'í in New York, Roy Williams. I had been corresponding with him and he and Ono San had exchanged some beautiful spiritual letters as Bahá'í brothers. He heard that I was not well and lovingly supplicated the Master for me. In his Tablet ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote: "I supplicate to the Kingdom of Abhá and implore for Miss Agnes Alexander exalted spirituality and great comfort."
‘Abdu'l-Bahá in His great mercy addressed two Tablets to a student who was a helper to Mrs. Finch, Mr. Kenkichi Futakami. The first one was dated Bahjí, June 1, 1921.
O thou who art devoted to Truth! In this divine garden, thousands of fresh and verdant trees have raised their tops to the Supreme Apex and on every tree there are thousands of nests. Therefore, for thee, who art a bird of high flight, a nest has been prepared. Then soar, that thou mayest attain to that nest. This is a divine nest in the Heavenly Kingdom. Every bird that attained to this nest learned a melody and also taught the birds of the meadows the divine harmony which moves and enraptures the East and the West. Do thou therefore strive with all thy heart and soul that thou mayest abide in this nest and thrive till eternity. Unto thee be Abhá Glory!
The second Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was dated Haifa, October 7, 1921.
O thou son of the Kingdom! Thy letter has been received. The contents were indicative of spiritual susceptibilities. I pray God that thou mayest rise above worldly attachments and restricted thought to the realm of the Kingdom; that thou mayest become enlightened and spiritual, be completely released from the darkness of the material world, like unto the bud and rose, mayest diffuse fragrances in the Heavenly Rose-Garden, be confirmed by the breath of the Holy Spirit, and assisted by the Hosts of the Supreme Concourse. By deeds and words awaken thou the unaware souls and confer upon them the spirit of Life. Unto thee be the Glory of Abhá!
Second Year of the Star of the East
In the fall Yuri Mochizuki left Japan to go to France. For a year she had faithfully edited, proofread, and sent out the Star of the East on the nineteenth
At the celebration of November twelfth, we invited for the first time the girls who attended the Friday meeting to join with the others at the Feast. The Day of the Covenant, November twenty-sixth, nine of the friends were present at our last gathering while the Beloved Master was still on earth.
The Ascension of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá
On November twenty eighth, we received a cablegram from the Greatest Holy Leaf, "His Holiness ‘Abdu'l-Bahá has ascended the Abhá Kingdom." Later another cablegram came, "May His spirit assist us in serving His Covenant and being united more than ever in promulgating His Cause. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's family."
When the first cablegram was received, I sent word to the lovers of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in Japan, informing them of His ascension. I also sent to the newspapers in Japan, Korea and China, copies of the cablegram from the Greatest Holy Leaf with Bahá'í booklets explaining the Teachings. These were published in both Japanese and English newspapers giving great prominence to the Cause. An editor of an English paper in China, who had never heard of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, began his story in a humorous vein of his wonderment on reading the cablegram, as to who ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was? Then after he read the Bahá'í literature which was enclosed he continued a length a splendid article with quotations from the Teachings. In the Beloved Master's passing a great power was released in those Far Eastern counties.
As it had not been in God's plan for me to meet ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in person, I did not feel the sorrow at the time, which others who had met Him experienced, for He seemed to be still as near to me as ever. This perhaps was God's mercy and recompense to me because I had not had the privilege of meeting Him. My first thought on receiving the cablegram was that we would never again receive Tablets from Him. Then I began to collect the precious Tablets He had revealed to the Japanese living in Japan.
A Chinese student who attended the meetings and loved ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, came to see me and told me of the sorrow he experienced when he heard of the Master's passing. Mr. Torii wrote me from Tsu-shi, Mie-ken where he was living, "‘Abdu'l-Bahá passed away, but His living spirit is always with us and puts us to greater and closer unity. The Day of God has passed, but the Star of Truth is shining more brilliantly in the firmament of the hearts of humanity."
On December 4, we held a gathering in commemoration of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Notices of the gathering were printed and sent to the newspapers. They read: "A gathering in commemoration of His Holiness ‘Abdu'l-Bahá who ascended to the Abhá Kingdom on November twenty-eighth, will be held at the Bahá'í Home, 11 Ukyomachi, Yotsuya ku, from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, December fourth. All friends of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and those interested in His Great New Principles are welcome." The notices were published in the two English daily papers of Tokyo, and also in the Japanese papers. Besides the notices, we sent out ninety-five invitations from the Bahá'í Home. One friend, Mr. Sanzo Misawa, came twelve hours by train from Kobe to attend the gathering. In order to accommodate the friends we took out the furniture from the rooms and placed cushions on the floor in Japanese style. Thirty-six friends came, six of whom were women. The eleven who spoke on that memorable day were Japanese, American, Korean and Chinese. They were Mr. Kenji Fukuda, Mr. Sanzo Misawa, Mr. Ho (Korean), Mr. K. Toki, Mrs. Ida Finch, Miss Otoe Murakami. Miss Haruko Mori, Mr. M. Hataya, Mr. H. L. Yang (Secretary of the Chinese Legation) Miss Clara Smith and myself. The talks were in Japanese excepting those of Mrs. Finch, Miss Smith and myself. It was very wonderful to consider the power which ‘Abdu'l-Bahá gave the girls, Otoe Murakami and Haruko Mori, to speak among so many men in that oriental country where women were only beginning to meet with men, and their speeches touched the hearts, for they knew their Lord and His love surrounded them. Some of those who spoke were non-Bahá'ís, but all hearts were inspired by His love and it was a blessed gathering.
An eighteen-year-old Esperantist, I. Isozaki, who attended the gathering, brought me afterwards a poem in Esperanto which he had dedicated to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.
Kie floras, kie odoras/Sankta la regno de Di'/Tien flugas, tien veturas/Granda animo de Vi/Estas dorma, estas malluma/Blinda la homa vivad'/Mi por amo, lumo ciama/Sercu en nova pasad'/Nelpon donu Vi el cielo/Al laboranto sur ter'/Kvankam regas tie malbelo/Brilu kasita la ver'
At the time of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's passing, Yuri Mochizuki was on the ocean and heard the news when the steamer stopped at Port Said from where she wrote us of her heart's sorrow.
‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets to Japan and Korea
After ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's ascension every word He had written became a sacred treasure. When I began collecting the Tablets He had revealed to Japanese living in Japan, and one to Koreans, I found there were nineteen in all. His last blessed Tablet addressed to the new friends or Korea, was dated November 5, 1921. It reached Tokyo with one addressed to me on February 14, 1922. In collecting the Tablets, I found one missing which was addressed to a group of young men. I had given my last copy of it away and could not find another among the friends in Tokyo. It was not until I returned to Honolulu in January, 1924, that I found the original Tablet and sent it to Haifa to be retranslated. When the translation reached us, I felt the same joy and fragrance which I experienced on receiving a new Tablet from the Master. Eighteen of the nineteen Tablets were addressed to young people, and seven of these to girls of Tokyo. It is remarkable that the only Tablets to women
On December 26, 1921, I wrote: "Yesterday we had seventy-seven children at ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Christmas party! There were eighty-five present in this little home. Taking out all furniture but the round table with the tree, gave room for all. This party I feel will always be held for Him . . . Mr. Fukuda and Miss Komatsu have arisen to assist me with our little Star of the East and I feel we will start this new year with greater power than ever. Mr. Fukada has been prepared for this work."
New Era in the Cause — 1922
With the coming of the year 1922, a new era opened in the Cause of God under the leadership of the Guardian, the beloved Shoghi Effendi. His first inspiring letter to the friends in Japan follows:
In my little Japanese home in Tokyo the morning of February fourteenth, as I awoke it seemed as though scales dropped from my eyes and tears came with a realization, which I had not experienced before, that the Beloved Master had left us. The mail that morning brought two priceless Tablets revealed by Him and dated November 5 and 7, 1921. One was addressed to the new friends in Korea and the other to me. Those were His last eternal messages sent to the Far East. (See Chapter V).
Beginning in the winter of 1922, a new and joyful work opened for me to give the Bahá'í Message to Chinese students in Tokyo, as well as others who came from China to visit Tokyo. (See Chapter VI).
In order that the girls who attended the meetings might contribute to the building of the Temple in Chicago, I bought Japanese dolls and asked them to assist by making kimonos for the dolls, that they might be sent and sold in America for the Temple Fund. That was the
On May twenty-third, in three Tokyo newspapers, two of which were English papers, articles were published telling of the anniversary day of the Cause. The friend, Mr. Ujaku Akita, had three articles about the Cause published in a Japanese magazine called New Tide which also reproduced the picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá from the December, 1921 issue of Everywoman. The articles were written in Esperanto and Japanese combined. On the island of Formosa, the message of Bahá'u'lláh was made known by the editor of an Esperanto paper who published the Bahá'í teachings.
A student from Keio University visited me one day, Susumu Aibara, who was the first Esperantist in the university. In a letter I wrote: "He knew nothing of the Bahá'í Cause at the time, but had heard I was an Esperantist and came to invite me to the university to an Esperanto meeting. The moment I met him, I felt a great inspiration and immediately began telling him of the Cause. He afterwards said it was my enthusiasm that led him to the Bahá'í Faith, but that came, of course, through the great bounty of our Lord, who chosen this young man for His work." Through this lovable young man, the students of Keio University learned of the Cause and many of them visited me and attended some of our gatherings.
Another student who often came to the home that time was Mr. Keiji Sawada, a very intelligent refined young man who was attending the Government School for the Blind in Tokyo, as his eyesight was failing. He made the opening in his school for blind to hear the Bahá'í Message and during the years I spent in Tokyo, he invited many blind students to my home where I was privileged to tell them of the Tidings.
In the summer of 1922, after his school in Tu-shi closed, Mr. Torii came on a visit to Tokyo. It was a joy to meet him again, as nearly three years had passed since he left Tokyo. One evening I had the privilege of having him and three other blind friends in my home for supper. They were all helpers of the little magazine for blind children, Garden of Light, which Mrs. Kazuko Higashi, the blind and deaf friend started.
Tomojiro Hamada was a country boy who made his living selling honey. In the Bahá'í Cause he had spiritual light. When he returned from Tokyo to his home in Tokushima in the fall of 1922, he wrote: "Now I have no friend of spirit because I am so little. Tokushima is very old. It is like the night. I hope soon will be the sunshine on this city."
During the summer I spent two weeks near the ocean and returning to Tokyo stopped in Sendai, where I met the Esperanta Sanktfrata Asocio, and through their assistance seeds of the Divine Message were sown in that city.
A great joy came to me that year in October when my cousin, Mr. S. A. Baldwin, and his wife Kathrine and two lady friends from the island of Maui in Hawaii visited Japan. My cousins invited me to be their guest on a trip to Miyanoshita and Kyoto. For four glorious days I was with them and felt it came from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. At Kathrine Baldwin's request I talked of the Cause with her and her friends. When she returned to her home, she wrote me how happy she was, and from then she became active in the Cause, and has always remained a firm and ardent Bahá'í.
On December fifteenth 1922, we were made happy by receiving a cablegram from the beloved Guardian addressed in my care to the Bahá'ís of Japan. It read: "Refreshed and reassured I now stretch to you across the distant seas my hand of brotherly cooperation in the Cause of Bahá."
For the third time we had the joy of holding on December twenty-fifth, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Christmas party. More than ninety children came filling the rooms and narrow porch. It was the last Christmas in that little home where His great love and mercy had been poured out.
Early in 1923 the friends in Tokyo received a second letter from the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, who wrote:
Haifa, Palestine, December 17, 1922
blissful thought to remember that you are the Chosen Ones that shall establish the Kingdom of God in that land; that you are the pioneers of a work that will endure and supersede all the other achievements however meritorious and brilliant, of your fellow countrymen for Japan!
Martha Root's Second Visit to Japan
A great blessing came to Japan on April tenth, when beloved Martha Root arrived on her second visit to that country. She had responded to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's call to her to travel throughout the countries and roar like unto a lion the Kingdom of God. Her father, with whom she had remained after her mother's death, passed on and she was free to travel. Like a swift flying bird under the guidance of Shoghi Effendi, she passed through the countries singing the melodies of the Kingdom. Before she arrived I had made engagements for her to speak and all the days were full. It was a great joy for me to have her with me in my little home in Tokyo for ten days before we went to Kyoto and Kobe. The first evening after she arrived, she spoke in a Japanese English School. Mr. Keiji Sawada arranged for her to speak at the Government School for the Blind, and acted as her interpreter. I also spoke and the Breaths of the Holy Spirit confirmed the gathering. At Keio University the dear friend, Mr. Susumu Aibara, arranged for a meeting and he himself explained in Japanese the Bahá'í principles to the students. After Martha spoke they had a tea party with some of the students and professors and a photograph was taken. Afterwards Susumu Aibara wrote us a beautiful letter in Esperanto in which he addressed us as the "Peace fighters," using the Esperanto words. Martha was so pleased with the letter that she asked to keep it. At the Tsuda English School, Martha gave a beautiful talk, and at the YMCA she spoke to the English Speaking Society. At the YMCA, where she addressed the Japanese Women's Peace Society, Miss Michi Kawai acted as her interpreter. We were invited to the Esperanto Societies of Tokyo and Yokohama. Because of Martha's selflessness and devotion, her presence brought confirmations wherever she went. In my home we had a gathering for her and twenty-one were present. Another afternoon we entertained some Burmese young men and told them of the Bahá'í cause. In my guest book Martha wrote: "I have spent two weeks in Heaven with my precious sister, Agnes. Ya Bahá El-Abhá! April 10-21, 1923."
Mrs. Ida Finch and I accompanied Martha to Kyoto. From there Martha went with Mrs. Finch to Ayabe, the headquarters of the Oomoto religion, which had spread in Japan, but was later disbanded by the government. In Kyoto Martha and I met with the Esperantists, and in Kobe a large gathering was arranged by them at the YMCA. The kind friend, Mr. Sanzo Misawa, accompanied us to Osaka where Martha took a steamer for China and we bid her farewell.
My own sister, who had come from France to visit me in Japan, had arrived in Kobe, and we returned together to Tokyo. The veil was not lifted from her eyes, but her spirit towards the Bahá'ís was always loving and tolerant. She was a devoted Christian and satisfied in her faith.
At the Naw-Rúz feast in my home in Tokyo, those who were present signed their names to a letter which we sent to the Beloved Guardian. In reply we received from him a glorious answer:
Haifa, Palestine, May 10, 1923
Esperantists of Nagoya, Kyoto, Kobe and Tokyo
In the summer, while in Kyoto for a short time, I was able to give the Bahá'í Message to several persons and meet with a young Esperantist, Y. Yasuda. The Esperantists of Nagoya were holding a Convention and invited me to come as their guest. Returning from Kyoto, I stopped on the way to Tokyo in Nagoya. During a few days spent in that city, the Cause was made known through newspaper articles, two of which carried my picture. One of those who became attracted to the Cause was a Japanese Christian minister, Mr. N. Nagano, who was carrying on a social work among young men. He wrote me after my return to Tokyo: "I was very happy that I happened to meet you in Nagoya, and to hear personally from you about your Message, of which I had some knowledge through some pamphlets. Thanks for your kindness to send several kinds of pamphlets. They will be distributed among those who have some interest with the great teaching of Brotherhood . . . I know many friends here, mostly among young men, who have interest, more or less, with religion in the broad sense. They are not Christian, but seeking after something spiritual. I am thinking that if you stay here and try to spread your Message, it would be very effective. I myself would be able to help your work with full energy, as have much interest with your Message . . ." Another young man, Hiroshi Yamada, an ardent Esperantist, became a real friend to the Cause. He wrote me in Esperanto: August tenth. ". . . Antau cio, ni Nagojano vas dankegi al vi por via bonkoreco, kiun vi montris vizitinte nian urbon. Mi estas tre goja car ankau mi povas senti la sanktan Baháan spiriton inter ni Nagojanoj, kiel vi povis. Jen estas mildankebla, ke dank'al via veno verda movado en Centra Urbego povis kreski pli prospere ol antave. Mi disdonos al ciui samideanoi la sanktajn libretojn, kiun vi bonkore sendis min, per plej efika maniero . . . akceptu fervorajn salutojn de Nagojanoj, mi petas . . ." In a letter of August twentieth, Hiroshi Yamada wrote: ". . .Ricevinte vian pakajeton mi pensadis ke kiel mi disdonos tiujn sanktajn libretojn. Unue, mi disdonis al Nagojaj Esperantistoj iom libretojn, kiu presita Esperante. Poste, mi sendis al Jurnalejo artikolon, kiu nomita per titolo de "Veno de Fino Alexander kaj Bahaaj Principoj. Kaj en tiu artikolo, mi skribis pri konturo de Baháa afero kaj principoj, la faritaj aferoj de vi dum via restado en nia urbego, kaj ankau mi aldoninte skribis vian afablan leteron de Nikko tradukante Japane. Poste kelketage montrigis artikolojn daurinte dum du tagoj en Jurnalo Nagoja, kiu estas famata en nia lando. Mirinda fenomemo okazigis. Mi ricevis de nia urbo, aliaj urboj kaj de ec nebonkonata vilagetoj, treege multajn leterojn, kiu estas petanta ke bonvolu sendi la libretojn por studi Sanktan Instruon. Nur dum du tagoj la libretoj tute foriris de sub mia mano. Al la homoj, kiu estas ne donita tiojn, mi sciigis ke senpere petu al F-ino Alexander per letero, enhavante tauge postomarkojn por kesto de libreto kaj por postokosto. Tial sendu al ili po unu libreto, se vi ricevos petroleterojn, mi kore petas. Numtempe al mi sajnas, ke multaj homoj komencis studi Baháan instruon. Jen estas al mi tre goja, ke ni povas certe senti Baháan spiriton en miaj amikoj pli forte ol antave kiel vi diris. Elkore deziras vian bonsanon kaj felicon, Ciam via frateto, H. Jamada."
The Esperanto student whom I met in Kyoto. Y. Yasuda, wrote me: "Ankau mi esprimas el profunda koro por via bonkora pruntedono de multaj libroj, kiuj enhavas multajn novajn spiritojn, kiujn vi ciam predikas. Mi ciutage kun carma intereso ilin legadas kaj mi sentas certe la enhavo ciam al mi donas inspiron, kiu al mi diras diretkon. Mi ciam sercadis puran akvon en arbaro kiel safo soifanta, kaj nun renkontinte unu grandan novan spiriton, mi jam sentas kontenton. Religio estas la grava problemo de la vivo, tamen bedaurinde ciuj religioj estas degenerintaj kaj oni ne povas kontenti je tiuj, se oni prudente sin rigardos. Formala religio estas renio ol degenero. Vera dio devas enhavi cion. Dio, kiu devas rifuzi dion de alia religio per gardi sin, tiu dio ne estas vera dio. Vera dio estas unu sola. Ploj grava estas unuigo de ciuj religioj kaj tiu, kiu havas novan spiriton, devas doni al sercantoj de vero la novan spirition, novan, lumon, kiu faros ciun koron luma. La Zamenhofaj vortoj — Tra densa mallumo briletas celohavas gravan signifon. Ni, junuloj, devas forte stari sur firma bazo. Kurago ni devas marsi ciun baron disrompante." In another letter of August 1, 1923, he wrote: "Ciam kun prezuro mi legas vian leteron . . . Kiel vi diras nun estas la tempo de junuloj kaj ni estas la fundamento de ciu movade, sekve ni devas farigi gutoj kaj kauzi pluvon. Vere en ci tiu malnuro mondo plena de hipokritoj kaj paradoksoj, oni ne povas kontenti kaj ciuj baraktas por trovi lumon de vero kaj unuj per kontentigi sin materio, aliaj por kontentigi sin spirite. Kaj se oni prudente rigardos, ili tuj komprenos materion vaua kaj spiriton kompleta. Se oni povas vivi ekster meteria mondo, kiel felicaj ili estas. Sed ho! ve! Ciuj devas prizorgi pri la pano, tamen ni ne vivas nur por pano sed por alia granda afero, kiun tamen oni ne scias precize, sed iu forto, kiu trovigas en koro, direktas ilin al la celo. La granda demando pri la lingvoj estas preskau elsolvita-la verda standardo flirtas cio. Kio estas la dua demando, kiu devas esti elsolvita tre baldau? Ni junaloj vokigu kai devas marsi kurago al la celo. La mondo nova nin atendas kun mano bonvena. La dua demando ja estas grava kaj sankta. Ni junuloj devas lumigi sur la mondon mallumon kaj sur la degenerintajn religiojn. Tio ci ja estas la devo de nuntempaj junuloj, mi pensas. Vi estas benata, kiu havas okazon multe, por instigi junulojn cio on la mondo. Ho, patrino de mia sankta spirito, ciam gvidu min al la celo!"
After I returned to Honolulu, Mr. Yasuda wrote me on January 9, 1924: "Mi tre bedauris ke mi perdis mian estimatan patrinon de mia spirito, tamen ricevinte vian karton mi denove farigis felica kaj trankvila. Kiel mi sentas forton havante amikinon kiel vin! Cu vi jam ne revenas al nia lando? Cu vi forlasis japanajn servantojn al Dio? Eble ne kie ajn vi estas, mia spirito estas forte ligita kun la via. Mi neniam forgesos vin, kaj vi min. Ne forgesu donu ni novan spiriton."
Another ardent young student Esperantist whom I met in Kobe, K. Suzuki wrote me: "Do antau unu jaro mi estas konita nur la nomon de la Bahá'í kaj havinta la senton de konvolo pri Bahá'í. Nunfoje, tra la afablago via, mi scias ke spirita io kion mi voladis havi longe, gi estas ja la Bahá'í. Homa penso estos sangomeca, cu ne? Mia penso pri Kristanismo konvertis antau longe. Tiu ci konverto, kio estas mia progreso, ne estas al kredo je Dio, sed al la eklezio au pregejo, pastro kaj doktrino, kioj ne estas veraj al la koro de homo, kioj predikas
"Pri Esperanto, mi estas donita la nomon de 'Espernata Frenezulo' en nia Kolegio. Nun mi havas du kursojn de nia kara lingvo, unu en la kolego, alia al blinduloj.
"Mi repensas ofte Tolstojaj Vortoj: La lernado de Esperanto kaj gia disvastigo estas do sendube Kristana afero, kiu helpas al kreo de la Regno de Dio, kio estas la cefa kaj sola celo de la homa vivo.
"Hierau mi propagandis la Bahá'í-on al mia amiko. Li diris, 'Gi estas nur idealo neefektivebla.' Do, mi respondis lio, 'Homa vivo devas esti la eterna petado por la idealo. Se tio ci estus neveron, ni homoj trovus nenian valoron vivi. Sin trovas nenia progreso de homa vivo en la loko, kie sin travas nenia idealo.'
"Mi diligente studas pri la Bahá'í kaj propagandos gin. Car la Testamento diras 'Kio estas al vi agrabla, tion faru al ceteraj,' Mi kredas, ke semoj perdigitaj kreskos poste. Mi petas ke vi helpu kaj gvidu min estonte."
The eager, lovable students of Japan were helping to usher in the day when the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh would be established. In most of the higher schools of Japan young ardent Esperantists were to be found who were promoting the Bahá'í principle of a universal auxiliary language. The students in the schools formed groups and taught their fellow students. Through the wonderful means of Esperanto, the Bahá'í Message became known in the important centers of Japan, where it met with keen response and no prejudice.
The Finnish Charge d'Affaires to Japan, Dr. G. J. Ramstedt, was an enthusiastic Esperantist. In the leading Japanese magazine of Tokyo he had an article on "Esperanto and Travel," which was translated and published in Japanese. He wrote: "Arriving in Japan in 1920, I was most cordially met by the Esperantists of Tokyo, not only in Tokyo, but in every part of Japan, I had the same experience, for later visiting Osaka, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Sendai and other places, I found the same friendship and eagerness to help and guide a 'foreign' Esperantist so closely connected with the neutral language called Esperanto . . . I do not hesitate to say that the time for such 'neutral' and really international desire to approach each other is nearer than is supposed, and is the language for this purpose."
At dinner of the Esperantists in Tokyo in celebration of Dr. Zamenhof's birthday, there were present representatives of Great Britain, Russia, Finland, the United States and Japan. The British representative, who was a secretary in the British Embassy, wrote for the weekly English magazine, Far East of the event: "No one attending the meeting could have failed to be impressed by the lack of reserve, the spontaneous friendliness which characterizes these gatherings. This may be attributed to a common ideal and also to the equality resulting from a non-national language which confers no one-sided advantage."
The annual Japanese Esperanto Congress in 1923 was held in Okayama and was in session at the time of the great earthquake of September first in Japan. Mr. Torii attended it and wrote me that many times during the Congress the Bahá'í teachings were mentioned.
The Great Earthquake
September 1, 1923, was the day when a great catastrophe visited Japan. Mrs. Finch had come from China a few days before and was staying with me in the little room which my sister, who had gone on a trip to Mt. Fuji, occupied. That morning Mrs. Finch went to the steamship office to engage her passage home. When she returned she said she had decided to remain a few months longer, when suddenly a violent tremor shook the house and continued to grow in violence. We fled to the little street. In that moment when the earth trembled and the roofs of the houses fell, one realized the powerlessness of man and God's power over all. As soon as the first great tremor subsided, I rushed into the house and procured my hand bag in which I carried the Prayer for protection revealed by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá at the request of Bahá'í students in Beirut College. When the earth began again to tremble, I read the Prayer aloud. Three times this occurred, and each time quiet came after the reading. I said to Mrs. Finch that she was a witness of it. It is God's mercy to us that we could seek the protection of the Greatest Name and did not know of the terrible tragedies which were taking place in the city, two-thirds of which was destroyed by fire, and thousands lost their lives, while several millions were left homeless. The front of the little home was thrown out, and the plaster walls crumbled, but His love and protection was there. On September tenth, Mrs. Finch left to be taken by the United States government on a steamer to Seattle. A Japanese woman and her son, who were burnt out, then came to stay in the home with me. All the Bahá'ís of Tokyo were protected and often visited during those days the Bahá'í home. When at last my sister was permitted to return to Tokyo, we arranged to leave for China. Then Mr. Sanzo Misawa in Kobe offered to make his shop the Bahá'í Center and I sent him some of the Japanese Bahá'í literature and other publications, while friends in Tokyo who had room, took literature to keep.
Through Roy Wilhelm, two hundred dollars ($200) was sent to me from the beloved Bahá'ís of New York, to be used to help earthquake sufferers. With the money, Mr. Misawa of Kobe who had a tailor shop, had garments made for the refugees who flocked to Kobe from Tokyo and Yokohama. Another blessed contribution of forty-five Egyptian pounds came from Haifa. In a letter from the Spiritual Assembly of Haifa, November, 1923, is the following: "One of the friends, Ali Effendi of Jaffa, invited all the friends of Haifa and ‘Akká, to a reception on Mount Carmel. In the meeting he humbly stepped forward and addressed beloved Shoghi Effendi and stated that he believed that all such general gatherings should yield some material result, and that as he had heard that the Guardian of the Cause wished that some contribution be sent to the suffering ones in Japan, he contributed ten Egyptian pounds. Other friends present took part in the subscription, as well as members of the Family. A sum of forty-five Egyptian pounds was contributed and will be sent to Japan forthwith." In a letter I received later from the Guardian, Soheil Afnan wrote "You would, I am sure, be very interested in the contributions
The secretary of the Spiritual Assembly of Haifa wrote on December twenty-eighth: "You must have read in our circular letters that in one of our meetings at the Holy Shrine of the Master, a sum of money was collected for the suffering ones in Japan. We found it best to send this sum to you through brother Roy . . . We rendered special thanks at the Holy Shrines because you were miraculously saved at the formidable catastrophe in Japan. He needs you still for the spread of His Teaching and He will guide you wherever you may happen to be: you are truly born again. All the friends here think of you and wish complete success in your activities."
The greatest bounty which came from the calamity was the precious letters I received, especially from Haifa. At that time Shoghi Effendi was away and the Greatest Holy Leaf was serving the Bahá'ís in his stead. The power of Bahá'u'lláh to unite the hearts was marvelously demonstrated in the spiritual kinship of that Bahá'ís. Parts of the letters follow:
Azizullah S. Bahdur wrote from Haifa on October seventh: "The news of the catastrophe in Japan touched every heart in general and our hearts in particular too because we had in that land our dear sister Agnes. The Greatest Holy Leaf sent a cablegram immediately to inquire how you were. Days passed and no answer came. This disturbed our minds more. So we thought it wiser to send another cablegram to our dear sister, Martha. After four or five days we were so glad to receive the answer stating, "Agnes Finch safe." This released us from that oppressive anxiety from which we had been suffering for quite a long time . . . We are awaiting your letter to know the details and particulars of your experiences during the catastrophe. We prayed very ardently for the protection of our dear Japanese friends . . . Our brother Fujita is present and joins me in sending much love to you and to our dear sister, Mrs. Finch, and assures you both that you are not forgotten in our prayers at the Holy Shrine of our beloved Lord. The members or the Holy Family are also thinking of you with affection and love and include you both in their loving prayers and requesting you to kindly write and inform them of the safety of the dear Japanese friends. With warm brotherly love and Bahá'í greeting, I remain ever, Your humble brother in ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's love."
A precious letter came from the Greatest Holy Leaf follows:
Later I received a letter dated Haifa, January 9, 1924, written on behalf of the Greatest Holy Leaf and sealed by her in answer to one she received from me. A portion of the letter follows: "She (the Greatest Holy Leaf) was delighted to hear from you, especially that you are quite well. Indeed she worried about you so much when she heard of the great earthquake that she could not rest until news of your safety reached her. A special prayer of thanks was offered to Him who watched over you and protected you during that fearful calamity. She is so happy over your wonderful work and hopes that you will meet with such success all the time and everywhere. She always offers a special prayer for your work, as well as Miss Root's because, like our Beloved, her interest is great in China, Japan and Korea. The field is so great there and workers are so few, and to have you there is a great pleasure and blessing. You served so faithfully and soon you will be reaping the seeds you sowed. She wants you to be sure of her love and appreciation."
Another precious letter came from the Master's daughter, Rooha, dated Haifa, January 11, 1924, in which she wrote: "I was very glad to know that the unfortunate catastrophe of the earthquake did no harm to you. Surely the Master has protected you and saved you because you are needed in the world for this great mission. We are very sorry for the Japanese. They really have been through a great test, and we pray most earnestly for those souls, that instead of the worldly treasure they have lost, they will gain heavenly bounty. I hope, my dear sister, wherever you are, you are doing splendid work for our Lord, and that sometime in the future you will be able to come and give us the joy of meeting you in this Holy Spot. I often remember you
Fujita wrote from Haifa, October 30, 1923: "My dear Sister Agnes, I have been anxiously waiting to hear some news from you direct after the great earthquake. Today I received a letter from Miss Murakami and pictures. I thank you so much and I greatly appreciated it. I am rejoiced to hear that you and dear friends were saved by God in the great earthquake and I am immensely glad to know of your salvation. I am awfully sorry that you have suffered terribly with the suffering people in the devastated area. In spite of much suffering and discomfort you are carrying on the work of God. I admire your courage and untiring services. Surely the people must wake up after such happenings . . . The Greatest Holy Leaf and the members of the Holy Family and the friend of Haifa join me in sending love and affectionate greetings and heartfelt sympathy."
A letter came from Paris, France, from Yuri Mochizuki dated September 14, 1923: "Ma chere mere en Bahá, As-tu-ete a Tokio au momment de la terrible catastrophe? Je m'inquiete beaucoup pour ma maman en Bahá. Les journeaux announcent que Yotsuya n'etait pas endommage par la catastrophe. Mais sans doute, il devait y avoir une grande terreur et danger. Comment vas-tu? Je tu souhaite de tout mon coeur d'etre saine et sauve ainsi qu'a Mrs. Finch. Yuri."
Roy Wilhelm wrote in part: "To write you at length at this time, one hardly would know where and how to begin. One thing you may be assured of your friends by the scores in this section of the world were thinking, praying for you. Indeed there were some who insisted, that no indeed Agnes Alexander would not be taken from us at this time. What a harrowing experience it must have been, how your benevolent heart went to the suffering thousands, we shall all await your account . . . . There is enclosed a Draft for $200 from the friends in New York City. Knew you could use it to mighty good advantage. We anxiously await word from you."
Miss Della Lincoln (Mrs. Patrick Quinlan) wrote from Brooklyn, New York, on September 4, 1923: "I cannot express to you our anxiety concerning your safety at this time. The papers report such wide spread disaster, the headlines this morning putting the mortality at 250,000 and saying that the whole of Tokyo is destroyed. If this is not exaggerated, you must be in great distress and danger, and we long to hear that you have come through safely. Our prayers are with you and with the dear Japanese believers."
Other Bahá'ís sent loving messages to me. The following words are taken from their letters: "Miss Agnes Alexander, beloved servant to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá! The recent calamity of Japan caused us great sadness. This country has arisen and raised large sums to assist Japan. This city of Kenosha has sent $3,500 from their Community Chest which is a local relief fund and maintained by each working man and woman donating one hour's salary per month. This is kept up for the hospitals and poor of Kenosha. A post card from Roy Wilhelm today states he saw your name on the list of those of Japan who escaped harm. We thank God that He has protected you as you are a true servant and loved by all the Bahá'í everywhere. Love from all. Humbly, L.J.V."
From Mr. Rufus W. Powell, Brooklyn, N.Y., September 3, 1923. "We all had you and those working with you very much in our minds and hearts yesterday when we met at the Bahá'í Center in West 34th . . . They all send love and cheer and hope to you and shall be anxious to hear how much, if any, loss you have suffered and whether, in any way, your work has been hindered. Of course we just know that you have met the tests to which you must have been put, and come through them in such a way as to have helped the Cause to which so much of your life has been given. What more can we say! . . ."
From Louis Bourgeois, Chicago, Sept. 11, 1923. "In these trying days that you must be experiencing in your afflicted country of your choice we are very anxious to know how you are faring and how we may be useful to you. We feel that you have been protected but probably without a shelter. Are you going to return here for a season or persist in your field of devastation? I have no doubt that you have been under terrible strain during this terrible cataclysm and we are anxious to hear from you."
From Albert Vail, Evanston, Illinois, September 4, 1923. "We are all waiting to hear that you are through the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty safely protected in the disaster that has overwhelmed Tokyo . . . With dearest love to all the Bahá'í friends and the hope that they escaped unharmed the great disaster."
From Louis Gregory, Somerville, Mass., September 4, 1923. "I have felt especially anxious for you, our dear sister, Mrs. Finch, Prof. Monroe and that dear circle of illumination whom you have trained and gathered about you, all of whom I seem to know. Yet my hope for you is above all; for I know that you are unshaken in your faith in the Supreme Power of the Covenant and rely at all times upon its Guidance and Protection. This is indeed the only safety for any soul. Physical calamities affect only our bodies. The real calamity, in 'this gloomy, disastrous age,' is not knowing God. I thank God that you and your associates, in reality, live in a world above the realm of dust. I hope that you will at once communicate with us and let us know, aside from the general measures of relief in which all of the friends will join, what we can especially do for you and your associates, who are so dear to our hearts through the eternal bond. Meantime, may our kind and merciful Lord comfort you and yours!"
From Mrs. Jeanne Bolles, October 9, 1923, Montreal, Canada. "The joyous news has come that you Beloved have been spared us out of the terrible calamity of the disaster which befell Japan. Oh, how fleeting is life! We need you yet here and no doubt we must thank the Hosts of the Supreme Concourse that they were willing to leave you among us. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá has said, as ye know, that the souls beyond are anxious to do the work
From Marian Haney, Washington, October 18, 1923. "Beloved sister Agnes: Your letter reached us. Indeed we knew you were safe in the Everlasting Arms! Have we not read the Promises of God to those who go forth in His Vineyard!"
From Ziaoullah Asgarzadeh, London, October 25, 1923. "Dear spiritual Sister in the Cause, Miss Alexander. I beg to enclose herewith a circular letter from that Assembly of London addressed to the Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo and all friends of Japan. I was, as well as all friends of England, unboundly glad to hear that you have been saved in the terrible earthquake in Tokyo."
From Mrs. Hattie J. Laughlin, California, October 29, 1923. "I've thought, oh so much, about you and especially since that terrible disaster in Japan. I wrote immediately to Ella Cooper to please let me know just as soon as she heard, yet I felt peaceful about it — I knew you would be cared for — and that our dear ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was watching over you, that His all-seeing eye was ever watching and guarding you."
Victoria Bedikian wrote me from Montclair, New Jersey, where I had spent many hours with her in the winter of 1919: "Agnes, my love, my dear good precious sister! What is it all about! Do write me at once and tell me of my 'Cherry Blossom Garden,' of its precious, glorious 'Mother.' And what has become of our children, our W.F. and those souls of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá! Maybe through His Protection all are safe, and angels of Mercy in this terrible distress and sorrow of the nation . . . Did you receive our two hundred, darling! . . . I love you O, so much . . ."
Crisis brings growth. Materially Tokyo and Yokohama were rebuilt. A transition was brought in Japanese women's lives, and they became more desirous of being independent and able to support themselves.
The earthquake was the means of bringing about the guidance which had come to me the year before that I would go to China and also to Hawaii. I wrote a friend: ". . . I know these are truths but when they will be fulfilled I do not know. It may be a very long time . . . Now China has become a new and wonderful country to me."
My sister and I left Tokyo on October twelfth, and went to Peiping, stopping on the way in Seoul, Korea. (See Chapter VI and VII).
While in Peiping I received a beautiful letter from the beloved student of Keio University, Susumu Aibara. As he was an ardent Esperantist, ail his letters were written in that language. He wrote: "Tokio, 13/11, 1923. Kara kaj estimata amikino, Kiel granda estis mia gojo, kiam mi ricevis vian karan karton hodiau matene. Mi multe dankas por via karto. Mi volis vin viziti en Yocuja, dume mi audis ke vi jam forlasis mian landon-Cu vi povas imagi, kiel mi surprizis kaj sentis malfelicon pro via neatendita forveturo! Tuj mi volis sendi al vi leteron, sed mi ne sciis vian adresson-kaj hodiau mi re vis vian karton!!
"Je la 12a de Okt. mi alvenis al Tokio, kaj vi forlasis Tokion!! Cu la Dio ne permesis al vi, ke ni vidu unu la alian? Vi estas unu el la tute-ne-forgeseblaj homoj por mi. Via elkore simpatio, kiun vi bonkore montris kiam mi estis en Keio Hospitalo, via bonkoreco estas ekbrilo de via sankta koro-via amo-via homano!! Mi vin pensas ke vi estas mia 'dua patrino,' kaj vi tute ne estas mia 'amikino'. Lau angla verkisto Oskar Wilde, inter viro kaj virino neniu amikeco estas ebla. Tie estas pasio malamikeco, adoro, amo, sed ne amikeco. Mi sentas ai vi ciujn ci sontojn krom malamikeco. Kaj via amo al mi estis tio de l'patrino al sia infano-tute senegoisma, tute pura kaj dia amo!!
"La 11an de Novembro estas 'Tago de Paco.' En Tokio, granda festo okazis ja la tago en Hibija Parko. Matene por pliaguloj kaj posttagmeze por geknaboj. Je la festo, japanaj popoloj elkore dankis la bonkorecon de Amerikoj k.t.p. okaze de la 1an de Septembro. Japanaj geknaboj deklaciis deklaron por tutmonda paco, je la festtago kaj legis gin antau 13,000 geknaboj kaj urbanoj, kaj fremdlandaj reprezentantoj per lingvoj japana, angla, franca kaj Esperanta!! Kaj 'League of Nations Association of Japan' eldonis multe koloritan afison (poster) kun jena frazo-'FRATOJ, M-ANON DONU KORE!' (Tomo jo te o!) Nun Esperanto farigis tute publiko!!
"Mi esperas vian bonvojagon kaj baldauan revenon al Tokio, Koran saluton al via fratino, kore via . . ."
Susumu Aibara was at one time ill in the Keio hospital where I visited him. After leaving the hospital, he went to the seashore. There he spent hours collecting tiny shells on the shore, which be brought me on his return to Tokyo, to express his gratitude to me for visiting him when he was ill. The precious shells I sent to the Holy Household in Haifa.
On December 30, 1923, as I was on my way from Shanghai to Honolulu, Mr. Aibara met me at the steamer in Kobe, and while the steamer was in port, accompanied me to meet Mr. Brailsford, to whom I gave the money sent me from Haifa for the Japanese refugees, as he was assisting the refugees. In a letter which I received in Honolulu, from Mr. Aibara, dated January 31, 1924, he wrote in part: "La 30an de Dec. 1923 estas por mi prezuriga tago memorinda, kvankam mi tute ne povis bone vin servi!! Mia servo al vi tre bele honoris la finon de 1923a. Cu vi jam forgesis la tagon? Mi neniam fore sos pri la tago kiel mia serago al vi.
"Je la 8a de Jan. mi revenis al Tokio. Mi nun esta unu el sekretarioj de Esperanta Fako, Japan Asocio por la Ligo de Nacioj, Shiba-parko, Tokio. Kaj cefe mi sole I laboras pri Esperanto, kvankam mi estas ankorau studento kaj mi estas ciutage tre okupata pro Esperanto kaj pro venontaj ekzamenoj."
Before the great earthquake, Mr. Aibara had hoped to take for the subject of his graduation thesis, the Bahá'í Teachings, and it was a great disappointment to him when I left Japan, for he was afraid he would not be able to accomplish the work without my help. In our correspondence I encouraged him to write to our Guardian, and also to Dr. Esslemont, who was then in Haifa. This he did and received in turn a beautiful letter from the Guardian, as well as from Dr. Esslemont, both of whom sent him Bahá'í literature. He succeeded in writing a very long thesis about the Bahá'í Cause, including its history, teachings, especially in regard to the economic
Mr. Aibara's letter to Dr. Esslemont, which he sent to me to open, follows: "La 4an de Januaro, 1926. Yama-Ashiya, Muko-gun, Kobe, Japanujo. Tre Estimate Sin-joro, J.E. Esslemont, Kun granda danko mi ricevis vian tre satatan letoron kaj mi dankas milfoje al vi.
"Jam mi skribis grandan artikolon pri Bahá'í movado lau socia pensado. Gi estas iom granda. Pri la historio, mi skribis pli detale ol via bonega libro. Jus la de vi ricevitajn brosuletojn mi trovis tre utilaj. Poste me volas sendi iun skribajon al la 'Nova Tago,' kies 3-an numeron mi jus ricevis.
"Mi estas tre goja, ke via libro estas nun aperanta en la traduko de germana, portugula, dana kaj Esperanto. Cu estas permensate al mi traduki en japan lingvo?
"Mi dankas vin por via afableco transdoni mian leteron al S-ro Fujita. Jes, kiam F-ino Martha Root venis al nia lando komenco de sia mondvojaro, antau 3 jaroj, mi vidis sin, kaj ni Esperantoj en Keio Universiato en Tokio arangis kunvenon por si. Si narolis pri 'Universala edukado' antau 100 studentoj, kaj post tio, ni arangis teokunvenon, kies fotografaion F-ino A.B. Alexander certe sendis al S-ro Shoghi Effendi.
"De-kore mi dankas afablan letero de S-ro Shoghi Effendi, al kiu bonvolu transdonu mian plej sinceran saluton. . . Vi jam ricevis leterojn el S-ino Kanae Takeshita en Tokio. Gin mi tradukis en Esperanto el lingvo japana, por si. Si estas vere malofte trovita klopo dema virino en nia lando.
"Pri mia artikolo pri Bahá'í movado, mi raportis je nia profesoro, kaj mia raporto kauzis iom grandan sensacion al la profesora kaj aliaj 30 ceestantoj studentoj . . . Je la venonta marto mi finos universitaton kaj eble min okupos ce la nove starigota Tokio-Filio de la Ligo de Nacioj en Genevo. Dekore petante vian tre malfruan respondon, Sincere via frato."
Although Dr. Esslemont did not come to Japan in person, his spirit penetrated that country through the means of Esperanto. For several years I had corresponded with him and Mr. Torii had also exchanged Esperanto letters with him. He sent me a number of Esperanto books inscribed to the Japanese Bahá'í Esperantists. When I left Japan after the great earthquake, in 1923, I donated these books to the library of the Japanese Esperanto Association in Tokyo. There many young men saw them and touched Dr. Esslemont's spirit.
After my return to Honolulu in January, 1924, I had the bounty of receiving a letter from the beloved Guardian. It was the first personal letter I had received from him. The words penned by his hand at the end of the letter, so affected me that for several days my hear was filled with joy and inspiration, and a realization came to me of the power with which God had endowed him. The letter follows:
In Honolulu in February, 1924, a reception was held by Governor and Mrs. Wallace R. Farrington for officers and midshipmen of three Japanese training
The beloved brother, Mr. Wm. H. Randall, who generously assisted the Bahá'í Cause in Japan by material means, also contributed spiritual strength by his loving spirit of selfless devotion. His spirit and love is exemplified in a letter to me of April 8, 1924. He wrote: "I know you will never relinquish the tender Bahá'í plants that are growing in Japan, and I also know that some day the awakened spirit of Japan will adopt you as its spiritual guide to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, and I know of no more wonderful history that you can leave than to have opened up the heart of a whole country and a race of people. I would like to say a lot more, but I feel diffident about it, because you cannot really know how deeply I appreciate and how greatly I love your life, your spirit, and your sacrifice, and I can only pray fervently that ‘Abdu'l-Bahá may surround you with every bounty and keep you in His Household."
One day in February, 1925, a Bahá'í sister, Mrs. A.C. (Orol) Platt, of Los Angeles, California, passed through Honolulu. She was traveling with her husband and friends in the Clark Tour to the Orient. A few of the Bahá'ís had the pleasure of meeting her the day the steamer was in port. As the steamer she was traveling on was to stop in Kobe, I wrote immediately to Misawa, who lived in Kobe, telling him of our Bahá'í sister. What a joy it was later to receive from her a long letter addressed to the friends she met in Honolulu! This blessed sister, through His guidance, had watered the Divine seeds planted in Kobe. She wrote:
Anchor Line, T.S.S. California,
After I left Japan Miss Mikae Komatsu married a Mr. Arakawa and went to live in Kobe. She had had a good education for a Japanese young woman and was eager to break away from the old time custom which kept Japanese housewives in seclusion. She wrote me March 18, 1925, as follows: "Dearest mother, Your letters and books I received with hearty thanks and gratitude. You are always kind to me. In reading your letters I was inspired and encouraged to pray and turn to God. Oh, how I long to be with you and do work for the benefit of humankind. You see, I have many things to do in the house and now I have lessons in typewriting. I am not allowed to work, but am very sorry to lose the precious thing which with difficulty I got in school. Lacking the opportunities of using English, I will be behind the time and my English will become of no use. This is the
"Mother dear, if you were here in Japan! I will work with you . . . Misawa San (Mr. Sanzo Misawa) is the only one whom I often visit and talk about Bahá'í. . . Nowadays, the questions of working women and women's suffrage are talked of much, especially the former. Since the great earthquake, Japanese women have gradually felt that they must have a firm footing, or foundation, on which they can stand and get their living on independence in the serious cases. This will be clearly seen in that more than half of the graduates in one girls' school, have gone on to higher schools, such as the Woman's College, the English School, the School of Medicine, and there are lots of girls who go into work — rather low, or simple — who have only finished the girls' High School. Really this is a transition in Japanese woman' history. I also love to work. It's a pity to be shut in the house, isn't it? But I intend to manage to work in the society. . . . Well, mother, we will join in heart even if we are separated very far. I feel always your tender love and care for me. Your love is the light to me which enlightens my soul and guides me to the right way of life. I offered all my Bahá'í books, which you gave me, to Misawa San, who can use them in propaganda. . . . Mother I will write again. Do write me often. Thanking you for your kindness and hoping for your letters, Your child Mikae."
Honolulu was the headquarters of two organizations whose aims were to make better understanding between the peoples whose countries bordered the Pacific Ocean. One of these, the Pan-Pacific Union, held weekly luncheons with speakers. The Director, Alexander Hume Ford, was kindly disposed towards the Bahá'ís and many times they were invited to speak at the luncheons. In this way the Cause was assisted. I became an active member of the Union in Honolulu, which helped me when I returned later to Japan, and was invited to speak at one of the meetings held in Tokyo on the Bahá'í Faith. (See Star of the West Vol. XVI, pages 56-69; Vol XIX, pages 234-236).
Another organization with the same aims as the Pan-Pacific Union, was the Institute of Pacific Relations. Its first two conferences were held in Honolulu in the summers of 1925 and 1927. Delegates representing nine Pacific countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Japan, Philippines Islands and Hawaii, gathered there for the two weeks conference. The way opened enabling me to attend many of its sessions. This gave me the opportunity to make contacts with the Oriental delegates from some of whom I procured articles for the Bahá'í magazine, which helped to spread the Cause among them. (See Star of the West Vol. XVI, pages 589 and 568; Vol. XVIII, pages 212-215; 225).
These two organizations of the Pacific were helping prepare the way for the great Day when the Sun of Bahá'u'lláh would be recognized and would shine upon all these peoples.
In Berkeley, California, in March, 1927, through the effort of our Bahá'í brother there, Mr. K. Yamamoto, Mrs. Kathryn Frankland and I were given the opportunity to speak to the Japanese community on the Bahá'í Cause. The meeting was held in the Buddhist Temple hall and Mr. Yamamoto interpreted our talks, and also spoke himself in Japanese, as the audience was made up of the older Japanese who did not understand English well. In Berkeley I also spoke to the Japanese students of the University of California at their luncheon meeting in Styles Hall YMCA.
Our brother Siegfried Schopflocher passed through Japan in the fall of 1927, and watered the Divine seeds. In the account of his visit he wrote of meeting the Bahá'ís in Tokyo: "I found quite a number of the friends there devoted to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. They are firm believers and do credit to the work of Miss Agnes Alexander . . . in that country. Particularly were they interested in the progress of the Temple." He entertained them at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, "where we partook together of a little dinner which will always linger in my memory as one of the pleasantest experiences of my life. . . . My relations with the friends in Tokyo was the most remarkable of all my experiences in Japan . . . since it brought to me a wonderful and unfaltering conviction that this Holy Cause is firmly established and progressive there. . . . I met the friends over and over again and greetings were sent to me from the friends at Nagasaki and other cities."