History of the Bahá'í Faith in Japan 1914-1938Barbara R. Sims.
One morning when I was on the island of Kauai, where we were celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of my grandfather Alexander's mission, an inner guidance came to me concerning my return to Japan. Returning to Honolulu I found a letter from the Guardian which had arrived the same morning, October 31, 1934, that I had received the guidance. In it he wrote through his Secretary:
Concerning your plan to leave for Japan after your visit to Honolulu, Shoghi Effendi fully approves of your intention to re-visit our Japanese friends, and to resume your pioneering work with them. His best wishes for the success of your plans will surely be with you all through this long journey, and it is hoped that as in the past you will be effectively guided and assisted in attracting and converting new souls to the Faith. In his own hand he wrote: May the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh illumine your path, cheer your heart and reinforce your efforts for the continuation and expansion of your historic services and may He protect you, and enable you to achieve your heart's cherished desire, Shoghi
A few days later, I received another letter from the Guardian dated November 1, 1934. In it he wrote in part through his Secretary:
Your welcome letter dated September twenty-fourth, has just been received and its perusal has brought much strength and comfort to the Guardian's heart. The gratifying news of your projected trip to Japan has particularly strengthened his hopes for the future expansion of your labours in that country. He trusts that on your return to that land you will find the friends more eager and ready than ever to carry on the teaching work which ever since your departure to the States seems to have been progressing very slowly. The Guardian will fervently pray for the success of your teaching trip, and he hopes that its result will be such as to encourage you to prolong your stay in Japan until a strong, active and well-united community of believers has been duly established. Your patient, sustained and selfless efforts in this connection, he is convinced, are bound to produce satisfactory and abiding results . . .And in his own writing: Dearly beloved co-worker: I wish to add a few words in person in order to reaffirm my deep sense of gratitude to you for all that you have achieved and for your determination to carry on the work that you have so many years so splendidly initiated. I trust and pray that you may be fully guided and assisted to fulfill your heart's dearest wish, Your true brother, Shoghi
Return to Japan
In a letter to the friends I wrote: "On May ninth, I left Honolulu to fulfill the Guardian's wish that I return to Japan. A great joy filled my heart as the steamer sailed away from home and friends, because His presence was near and I was fulfilling His plan for me. The steamer was scheduled to arrive on the twentieth, but it arrived ahead of time on the nineteenth." As the friends did not expect me that day, I went alone to Tokyo where, through His guidance, I took a room in a small hotel until I could find a suitable place to live.
In the United States the name of a young man who had been connected with the Montreal friends had been given me. I only knew that he had returned to his home in Japan, but nothing further.
The day after I reached Tokyo, a dear American friend came to see me. She was working in the office of the Japanese owned English paper Japan Times and mentioned among the names of those who worked in the same office, George Beatty. That was the name of the young man who had been in Montreal. The next morning I telephoned to the office and spoke with him, and in the afternoon he came to see me. We had a very happy visit and he was keenly interested to hear the news of the Bahá'ís. He had been taught by our beloved May Maxwell, but was not a declared Bahá'í. His father was Irish and died when he was nine years old and his mother was Japanese. For nearly two hours we talked until he had to return to Yokohama where he lived with his mother. He was a very lovable young man and it was a delight for me to meet him.
The next morning, May twenty-second, it suddenly came to me that through Mr. Beatty I might have something published in the Japan Times about the Bahá'í anniversary day. When I telephoned to him, he said if I would write and bring him the article within an hour, he could get it into the paper the next day. With divine assistance, I was able to accomplish it in time and on the twenty-third, it appeared in the paper. That same day when I went to get my mail at the American Consulate, there I found a letter from the beloved Guardian, dated April 17, 1935. He wrote in part through his Secretary:
Shoghi Effendi also cherishes bright hopes for your future work in Japan, where, he trusts, you will this time succeed in laying foundations for the establishment of new centers and groups in a not distant future. He is fervently entreating Bahá'u'lláh to that end, and is confident that through His confirmations and guidance your work will be blessed, enriched and sustained.And in his own handwriting he wrote: May the Beloved, whose Cause you have promoted with such unswerving loyalty and devotion, continue to bless your manifold activities, and aid you to consolidate the foundations of His Cause in that promising country. Your true brother, Shoghi
A few days after the article had appeared in the newspaper, a lady in the hotel spoke to me and said she had seen on my baggage that I was from Honolulu where she had once taught. I told her that I was in Japan for the Bahá'í Cause, and then she said she had read something in the Tokyo newspaper about the Cause, and that she thought it was the nearest to the truth of anything she had heard. She had read the article which I had published on May twenty-third. She was the wife of a
Soon after I met George Beatty he invited me to go with him to Yokohama to meet his mother and have dinner with them. We spent a very happy evening together and his mother said she felt that her son's life had been changed through May Maxwell's influence, George also was very grateful for all that had been done for him in Montreal, where he had attended the McGill University. As I felt he believed in the Bahá'í Cause, I was eager for him to become a declared Bahá'í, but he pleaded that it would not be right because he drank. When I was in Haifa two years later, and asked the beloved Guardian if I should write George that he should give up drink, he replied that I should wait until he is a Bahá'í.
Through divine assistance I was able to have a number of articles published about the Cause. Mr. Beatty opened the way for me to have a two column article about the Chicago Temple published on July ninth, in the Japan Times with the Temple picture. The Buddhist paper of Kyoto Chugai Nippo also published an article about the Temple, which the editor translated himself from the English and published with the temple picture. The Braille weekly paper of the blind, which my blind friend, Mr. K. Nakamura edited, accepted an article about the Temple I sent which was published with the heading, "Miss Alexander a Great Friend of the Blind in Japan."
In a letter to the friends I wrote: "During the two years I was absent from Japan, the Cause did not go forward, or apparently hold its own, but this does not trouble my heart, for I know that His guiding power is leading and that in time things will be different. The Spiritual Assembly which was formed here, no longer exists." To a dear friend I wrote: "My heart has never faltered for an instant, for how could it when this is God's plan and He is our Helper under all conditions. I know my understanding is closer. As I left Honolulu it seemed as though I felt his joy and assisting power as never before."
In the material world of Japan during the two years I was absent, great changes had taken place and nationalism and militarism had so developed that I was told everything not nationalistic was suppressed. In Tokyo there had sprung up two societies for the propagation of Japanese culture to foreigners. When I was in Haifa, two years later, Shoghi Effendi said, "Nationalism and militarism are all instruments which God is utilizing for His purpose."
Mr. K. Denzo Koyama, who formerly taught in Yokohama, came to see me. He was teaching in Meiji University in Tokyo and invited me to speak to the English Speaking Society of his school during their noon hour when they met once a week for English conversation. From that time I was often invited by the students to meet with them when we would talk of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.
At the Pan-Pacific weekly luncheon one day I met a Japanese, Mr. Takeshi Kanno. He heard me mention the Cause at the table and said he had met ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in California. After the lunch we had a talk and I found he was the one of whom I had heard many years before, to whom ‘Abdu'l-Bahá had shown great love. He told me of his visits with ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and that He had given him His rosary. When ‘Abdu'l-Bahá spoke to the Japanese audience in Oakland, California, in 1912, Mr. Kanno had read an eulogy he had written to Him. After thirty-five years absence from Japan he had come on a visit with his wife who was a gifted sculptress.
In memory of his son, Akira, who died in March, Mr. Torii was preparing a memorial book and asked me to contribute something to it. I wrote of my love for Akira and the Bahá'í teachings about life after death, quoting a Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá to parents who had lost their son. Mr. Torii replied that it was exactly what he had wished. The book was published with a copy of the original Tablet ‘Abdu'l-Bahá addressed to Mr. Torii on the first page followed by the English translation. The book contained an account of Akira's life with many pictures of him and also contributions from friends of Mr. Torii about him. The closing words in the book were in English from a Bahá'í prayer: "O Thou Who art the Lord of all men! Grant then, O my God, that Thy servant may consort with Thy chosen ones, Thy saints and Thy Messengers in heavenly places that the pen cannot tell nor the tongue recount." These words were also placed in Akira's casket with photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Mr. Torii said he felt the book was the declaration of his faith to his friends.
In the Torii Home in Kyoto
On July ninth, I went to Kyoto to visit the beloved friends, Mr. and Mrs. Torii, and remained with them for fifteen glorious days. While there we often played the beautiful classic records, which had been Akira's joy when he was ill, and which brought him near to us. Mr. and Mrs. Torii were wonderful in their fortitude. Akira was their only child and had been his father's constant guide and companion. Instead of mourning, they were cheerful and realized their boy was near to them, though unseen.
One of the bounties of my visit in Kyoto was meeting a friend of Mr. Torii's, Mr. Iwao Watanabe. He could see to read print only with the aid of a round crystal, letter by letter, and had in this way copied an English dictionary into Braille, the work of many years. He listened eagerly to the Bahá'í teachings. We had in Japan one copy of the English Braille Esslemont, and this he read with delight, and came several times to see me. Blind teachers from schools for the blind in different parts of Japan were then holding summer school session in Kyoto. Mr. Torii arranged for me to speak to some of them who were interested in Esperanto, of the Bahá'í Cause. One of the teachers, Mr. Y. Nakayama, from Fukushima prefecture, was greatly attracted to the Cause, and afterwards we corresponded. Before I left Japan we met again in Tokyo. Another day, through Mr. Torii, I was invited to meet the Esperanto group of Kyoto and speak to them of the Bahá'í Cause. In Osaka was the second largest daily in Japan. Its weekly Braille edition was edited by my blind friend, Mr. K. Nakamura. Through the efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Torii, who conferred with Mr. Nakamura, I met an editor of the paper who accepted an article I wrote about the Cause. This was a great confirmation, for the paper was commercial
One day in Kyoto I met a Japanese who was delighted with the Bahá'í teachings. As he was a friend of the editor of the Buddhist paper, Chugai Nippo, he telephoned to him and made an appointment for me to meet him. Mrs. Torii accompanied me to the newspaper office where we were cordially received, and another article about the Cause was accepted by the editor.
Mr. and Mrs. Torii were examples of cheerfulness and hospitality. Mrs. Torii was selfless in her kindness; and whosoever came to the home was made most welcome, often remaining for hours. It was a true home of love and friendship. While I was with them, Mr. Tori resolved to put the Esslemont book into Japanese Braille as a memorial to Akira, and I was delighted to offer to assist in publishing it. With the aid of the English Braille edition, Mr. Torii was able to improve the translation which had already been published in 1932 in Japanese.
After I returned to Tokyo, Mr. Torii wrote me "Though our customs are different, yet we were spiritually in perfect love and unity." There I had the bounty of receiving the following letter from the Guardian:
July 6th, 1935
A New Home in Tokyo
In Tokyo I engaged a Japanese house in Kudan which belonged to the landlord where I had formerly lived. On the nineteenth of September I moved into it and remained there until I left Japan in March, 1937.
The first gathering of friends was held in the new home on October twentieth, in celebration of the Báb's birthday. Mr. and Mrs. Kanno, Mr. and Mrs. Sawada, Mrs. Yone Yanigasawa and Mrs. Jessie Sato had supper with me, while Mrs. Yuri Furukawa came later and joined us. Mrs. Jessie Sato was a young woman born in America, where she attended the University of Southern California. I met her through Mr. Sawada and she became attracted to the Cause and was one of the group of second generation Japanese young women whom I was teaching in Tokyo the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. One of the girls was from Hawaii, where she had worked in the home of Mrs. Kathrine Baldwin, our Bahá'í sister, on the island of Maui. There she had assisted in the meetings with the Japanese women by interpreting for Mrs. Baldwin. She was really a believer in the Cause when she came to Tokyo for study. From her school she brought other girls to me. One of these, Miss June Fujita, also accepted the Message. After she returned to her home in Fresno, California, I met her in 1940, and she also met other Bahá'ís and attended some meetings which were held there. These girls came to study the Cause with me on Saturday afternoons.
In my little Japanese home I had the joy of entertaining many friends and visitors to Tokyo and in that way of conveying to them the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. Among them was a young woman from Australia, a lady teacher from England, a lady from Sweden and a number of American women. They were all attracted to the simple little Japanese home.
During the fall, Mr. H.M. Ouskouli, a Persian brother from Shanghai, came on a visit to Tokyo and I had several gatherings of the friends to meet him. Most of the Japanese friends of former times had scattered. I felt that the Japanese should make the center for the Cause and my home was only a meeting place. This was confirmed when I met the Guardian in Haifa, in the spring of 1937, when he said the Japanese must establish the Cause in Japan.
On October thirty-first another blessing came to Japan from the beloved Guardian written, September 23, 1935, as follows:
Dear Bahá'í Friend,Japan Times received sometime ago.
Regarding Mr. and Mrs. Torii, he is immensely grieved to learn of the passing away of their son Akira, and wishes you, therefore, to convey to them his heartfelt condolences and sympathy for this cruel and unexpected loss they have sustained. Will you also assure them of his prayers for the soul of
their departed son, that it may develop and receive its full share of Divine blessings in the next world.New Era into Braille for use of his blind friends. He would urge you to encourage him to complete the work as soon as possible, as it may prove of considerable help to the spread of the Teachings throughout Japan.
With the best wishes and prayers of the Guardian for your health, and for the speedy realization of your plans for the establishment of the Cause in Tokyo.
Yours in His service
Dear and valued co-worker:
Your past and present services are engraved upon my heart. The Beloved is well-pleased with your constancy, your zeal and exemplary devotion. I am truly proud of the spirit that so powerfully animates you in His service. I will continue to pray for your success from the bottom of my heart. Rest assured and persevere, Your true brother, Shoghi
Mrs. Yuri Furukawa had expressed her wish to have a school where she could teach the Bahá'í principles without mentioning the name Bahá'í. I told her, as we had a Guide who was under the Divine guidance, it was our privilege to ask his wishes, and I advised her to write and ask him regarding it, which she did. In answer to her letter, which was written in French, he made no mention of the school, and therefore I felt it was not his wish that we should have such a school. When I reached Haifa in the spring of 1937, and spoke about the school to him, he said, "It is useless to have a school." Then he went on to say, "Make her realize the need of the study of the Cause, especially the Bahá'í World, and to associate with the Bahá'ís."
The letter from the Guardian follows:
de 26 September, 1936
At the hospitable home of Mr. and Mrs. Keiji Sawada, many opportunities were given me to speak of the Bahá'í Cause, especially to the blind. One day Mr. Sawada invited a blind young man, Mr. Hiroshi Miura, to meet me. He was the only son of a dear widowed mother who accompanied him. His family were from the samurai class and he was very intelligent. When a student at the Imperial University of Tokyo, he was stricken with consumption. In seeking health he had an operation which resulted in his suddenly losing his sight. Since then he had suffered greatly. The teachings of Bahá'u'lláh appealed to his suffering soul and we had a happy visit that day and met several times afterward, besides corresponding. How grateful I was that such bounty should be mine to bring Light to a suffering soul!
On November twenty-seventh, again I had the blessing of a precious letter from the beloved Guardian who wrote:
November 3rd 1935
At a time in February, 1936, when there was a rebel
Our sister Yuri Furukawa had expressed the sincere desire to attend the Geyserville Summer School. Feeling that I should do everything in my power to assist her, I wrote the dear Boschs of her desire and they generously offered to help her make the trip. I knew that if we did our part, with His assistance all things were possible, but when the time came for her to sail in order to reach the school, she had not gotten a passport and the trip had to be given up. I still hoped, though, that the next year it would be accomplished, but circumstances then made it unfavorable. Two of the dear Bahá'í sisters in California had offered to take Yuri San, and I felt that at least something had been attained in drawing together East and West which would never be lost.
In response to a letter from Marion Holley, asking if I could arrange a meeting of Bahá'í Youth on March twenty-second, the day when the Youth all over the world were meeting, I invited the two girls of the second generation group, whom I felt were believers, Miss Hanayo Matsuo and June Fujita to come to my home that day. Marion had asked me to have those who came write their names, that they might be sent to Shoghi Effendi. This is what they wrote: "Hanayo Matsuo, age 24 years. I started to be interested in the Bahá'í teaching in 1932, and had been attending Mrs. S.A. Baldwin's meeting until I came to Japan. I am now studying Japanese in Tokyo and at the same time taking lessons from Miss Alexander. My chief purpose in studying Japanese is so that I will be able to spread this wonderful news to the Japanese in Hawaii when I go back. I have been trying to spread it but I felt that I just had to study the right Japanese to express the true words. I feel so happy to know that I have something to work on hereafter which is the greatest thing in the world. I know I can be the happiest Bahá'í forever and ever as long as I accept these true and most marvelous teachings."
"Tomoye June Fujita, age 19 years. I am from Fresno, California, and learning my native language in Tokyo. I became acquainted with Miss Alexander through Miss Matsuo and have attended the weekly meetings as often as I could. I have enjoyed these meetings immensely for I have felt so much more enlightened after studying Bahá'u'lláh's Teachings. May the day soon arrive when I can be called a true Bahá'í."
A letter from the Guardian dated May 11, 1936, again reinforced us:
Dear Bahá'í Sister,
During the hot summer in Tokyo, I had the joy of giving the Message to a number of visitors, among whom was a lady from Sweden. I had a copy of the Íqán in Swedish which Martha Root had sent me, and this I gave to the lady who had asked me to tell her of the Cause. Two ladies from a group of American art teachers also came to my home to hear more of the Cause. Through His wonderful guidance, I met a German lady who was greatly in need of spiritual help. She told me that when she first met me, she had seen a light in my eyes. God had attracted her hungry soul to His Light, and she had come in my path. She was living in Yokohama, and there I visited her several times and gave her a copy of Esslemont in German.
Japan-American Student Conference
On August 1-8, there was held in Tokyo a Japanese-American Student Conference which was attended by student delegates from American universities. The guidance came to me that I should attend it, and although visitors were not permitted at the sessions of the Conference, through His power I received an invitation to attend as an observer. The Conference was divided into several sections, and I asked to visit the one on religion. In this section five American and thirty Japanese students gathered to discuss religious problems. I was thrilled to have the great privilege of listening to their discussions. During the recess period they gathered in the hall and there I had the opportunity to speak with them and share the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. Several of the students showed interest when they heard of the Cause. Among the American students was a young man who had come from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. He read a paper on, "Is Science to Blame?" which thrilled me. He stated that what men needed today was knowledge of the spiritual world, and that we needed a guide. I procured his paper and sent it to the Bahá'í magazine, World Order, which published it in the April, 1937 issue. Some of the Japanese students expressed the truth that all religions are founded on the same principles. The conclusion of the students was that world peace was impossible with the modern working of the State. To the question, "Would you work towards the
The Sunday after the Conference was over, the section on religion had a social gathering and lunch together to which I was invited. After the lunch the chairman asked me to speak, and so the opportunity was given me to let all the students hear of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. How marvelous are the confirmations which come from His limitless power!
The last of August I spent nine days in a hotel in the Japan Alps. There I met an editor from the American newspaper, Japan Advertiser. He asked to have dinner with me. He wanted to know how I became a Bahá'í and asked many questions about the Cause, and I knew God had placed me there for His great purpose.
In September, through His guidance, I met Baroness Ishimoto, an outstanding Japanese woman who had lived in America and was the author of the book, Facing Two Ways. She came to my home several times and always I felt His power and guidance. Although she could not then fully comprehend the Cause, the Holy Writing had power on her heart, and I gave her a copy of Bahá'u'lláh's Seven Valleys. The first time she came to see me was on September eighteenth, and after she had left, a wonderful inspiration came to me, which grew stronger and stronger and filled my heart with joy. I wrote of it: "A wonderful inspiration and happiness has come to me and I do not hesitate to say it can only come through His loving guidance. It is that now is the time for me to go and visit our beloved Guardian and the Holy Shrines. Such a guidance has never before come to me."
On October seventh, I wrote: "As I wrote you of the joy which came to me in the realization that I would visit the Holy Land before long, I now will add the latest word. On September nineteenth, when the first realization came to me, I wrote immediately to the Guardian for his sanction, and then I wrote a second time asking for his word if I should remain here at present. As the time for a letter to reach Haifa, might be more than a month, I telegraphed and asked the Guardian if I should go. Last evening his answer came, 'Advise defer until situation Palestine improves love Shoghi.' It was a wonderful bounty to receive this message and so with this morning's light I felt a new day had opened for me and a time to strive more than ever to fulfill His desire for the work here in Japan. A great peace and joy also came, for when the right time arrives, then I shall have that great privilege of visiting the Holy Shrines of the Faith, and then I hope to be more worthy of going. Today a new work has come for me to which may be of great importance in the relations between this country and America . . ." The "new work" referred to was that Baroness Ishimoto had asked me to help her with lectures she was preparing to give in the United States. This was a great privilege for me.
Esslemont Book in Japanese Braille
As a memorial to his beloved daughter, who died at the age of sixteen years, in June, 1931, Mr. Daiun Inouye translated the Esslemont book into Japanese, and as a memorial to his beloved son, Akira, who died at the age of seventeen years in March, 1935 Mr. Torii transcribed the book into Japanese Braille. In a mysterious way God worked to perform His wonders! Thus Akira, whose name means "shining light," became a light to the blind of Japan, as ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote, ". . . Akira whose name may for it is quite an appropriate one," and the prayer of his parents to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in 1919: "We supplicate Thee especially for the good of our little Akira. This is the heartiest prayer of us his parents. If it is God's will, make him a little flower that trims this earth." It seemed Akira had come to this earth to fulfill his father's heartfelt desire to bring Light to the blind of Japan. Mr. Torii was aided by the English Braille edition of Esslemont in improving the Japanese translation which was published in 1932. He wrote that the blind publisher of the book in reading it became greatly interested in the Bahá'í Teachings and it made him happy to print it. The book contains 770 pages in three volumes. Thirty copies of it were distributed, of which thirteen were sent to the libraries of the principal schools for the blind in Japan, and the others to prominent blind workers for the blind in the country. Mr. Torii wrote himself a preface of nine pages to the book, a translation of which follows: "Concerning the publication of Esslemont's book in Braille. This book is very suitable for a knowledge of the outline of the Bahá'í teachings. It has already been published in ten languages and a Braille edition was also published in America in 1932. Therefore it is not necessary for me to write of the value of the book. Esslemont was a Scotch physician and a great friend to the sick in a hospital in Bournemouth, England. He was also an Esperantist the later part of his life. In 1916 and 1917, I received letters from him in Esperanto. His powerful spirit gave me strength and I was greatly encouraged by the breeze of friendship which blew from a far away country across the ocean. Here is a portion of a letter from him through which I recall his friendship. 'Antau du jaroj mi unue audis pri la Baháa Movado kaj de tiu tempo mi delegente studis la literaturon kaj pli kaj pli konvenkigis pli la gravecon de la instruoj de Bahá'u'lláh kaj ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Antau dek-ses monontoj mi komencis studi ankau Esperanto. Jam mia vivo mirindo sangis. Mi havas novan esperon, novan amon, novajn amikojn, novajn interesojn, novajn idealojn. Mi korespondas kun amikoj en Ameriko, Persujo, Japanujo, K.t.c. Vera religio estas, mi opinias, la sola rimedo por paco kaj amikeco inter nacioj. Ni devas koni kaj adori la solan Dion kaj obei al Liaj Profetoj, precipe al la lasta kaj Plej Granda Bahá'u'lláh. La Baháa Movado al mi sanas la sola povo kiu kapablas unuigi la diversajn religiojn, sektojn kaj partiojn de l'homaro. Vere ni vivas en la plej mirinda epoko de la historio de la mondo. Neniam antaue okazis kiel vastaj kaj profundaj sangoj tra la tuta mondo, kaj mi kredas ke la venontaj kvin-dek jaroj alportas sangojn inter nacia vivo, kaj en spiritaj kaj religiaj aferoj, tiel grandaj kiel sangoj en la rimedoj por vojagado kaj en spiritaj kaj religiaj kvin-dek jaroj. Ni devas fari nian eblon semi la benitajn semojn de fido, vero kaj amo tra la mondo je ci tiu spirita printempo. Post ne longe per la beno de Dio ili kreskos kaj produtos belajn fruktojn. La 4an de Januaro, 1917.' (A Japanese translation of this letter follows.)
"The translator of Esslemont's book, Mr. Daiun Inouye, is the Head of a Buddhist temple in Kobe. He lost his beloved daughter in 1931, and began to translate
"Miss Agnes B. Alexander in 1914 paid her first visit to Japan. Since then she has been working in this country making a center for the Movement with purest faith, love and passion for peace. She is really a virtuous lady who never forgets to serve others. Last year she returned to Japan for the fourth time, and at present she is living at 16-6 Nichome, Kudan, Tokyo, and is devoting herself to the Bahá'í Mission. Especially her love toward blind people in Japan is boundless, which I hope all the readers will note. If any reader wishes to ask questions about the Bahá'í Movement, please write directly to Miss Alexander.
"In the original book there is an index but in this Braille edition it has been omitted. Instead I have added ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's letters to blind persons in Japan, his speech to the blind in San Francisco and some words from Bahá'u'lláh. May there be noble fragrance of love, peace and joy wherever we blind people go, and may there be the wave of peace, trust and friendship at home and between individuals in society, in the country and between nations, and may the symphony of harmony and cooperation become abounding!"
After the book was published and distributed, many beautiful letters came from blind friends. One wrote in English Braille: "Many thanks for your kind present. . . . Please accept my hearty thanks not only from myself but also in the name of the blind of Japan we thank you for your selfless contribution. Now I have begun to read the book with my own eyes (that is fingers). This great joy and thanks I cannot tell you with my poor English, but I am convinced that this book will soon be a spiritual light and food to darkened and hungry fellowmen of ours. . . . I think in the near future this book will be a fountain of light and joy to our school pupils." Another friend wrote in Japanese Braille, of which these words are a translation: "Cosmos flowers in the garden have faded and fallen and I feel the winter is quite near. . . . This northeast district surrounded by mountains will be visited by snowfall in the autumn. I have read the books of Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, with silent meditation and philosophical feeling. I have twice read chapters III and IV. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá who lived a significant life bravely and courageously despite severe oppression gives me boundless power in my heart. Some future day I should like to invite you to this northeast district and introduce you to the unfortunate blind people in this district and ask you to let them hear your voice of deep love toward the blind. . . . I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
The beloved Guardian wrote the following letter relating to the Braille Esslemont book:
November 19th, 1936
Through the kind friend, Mr. George Beatty, a number of Bahá'í articles were published in the Japan Times. Especially noteworthy were reprints from the Bahá'í Magazine, World Order. One of these was the article by H. Rabbani, The Oneness of Mankind. The newspaper also published a two column review of the Bahá'í World Vol. VI.
November 26, 1936
In June, 1930, I had spoken in the Seikei Gakuyen, a boys' private school, at an Esperanto meeting arranged by students of the school. That day a photograph was taken at the school which became famous, as it was published three times in Bahá'í periodicals. I also wrote an article for the Bahá'í Magazine, in which I told about the school and the Esperanto meeting that day. (See Star of the West Vol. XXI, page 200 and Bahá'í World Vol. III, page 27). The photograph taken that day was also published in the Bahá'í Esperanto magazine edited by Dr. Hermann Grossmann in Germany. One day in November, a teacher in the school called on me with one of his pupils. At the time I spoke in the school he had been one of the pupils who helped to arrange the Esperanto meeting. He came to ask me if I would speak again in an Esperanto meeting at the school on November twenty-sixth. I was most happy to respond to the invitation because that day was the anniversary of my spiritual
On November twenty-eighth, I had the great bounty of receiving from the beloved Guardian a precious letter dated November 3, 1936.
Dear Miss Alexander,
Visit to Yanai
Although the Guardian's invitation to go to the Holy Land had come, yet I felt I should not hurry, as I knew when the right time came I would receive His guidance. The morning of December sixteenth, a cable came from the Guardian: "Fujita's mother ill urge visit her in Yanai extend assistance." In a letter that morning I wrote: "My heart rejoices for this is God's plan and so it must be a blessing. I have not the address of Fujita's mother but feel I will be assisted in finding it, for through His help nothing is impossible. . ." In a letter after I returned to Tokyo, I wrote of my visit to Fujita's mother: "I have just had a happy experience which I wish to share with you. . . . Of course it was only a great privilege extend to me that I could do this service. The home of Fujita's family is in the far away Yamaguchi Province, the most western province of Japan where I had not yet been. It was an eighteen-hour trip on the train from Tokyo, and I reached there the afternoon of the twenty-fourth of December. A young man met me, and I could easily know that he was our Fujita's brother from his smile. He told me his mother was well again, and soon after leaving my things at an Inn, I went to their little home, partly shop, where they sell Omochi, that is, the New Year rice cakes which are eaten at New Year time in every Japanese family. The mother I found a spirited little lady full of hearty laughter, and one could readily guess where our Fujita inherited his laughter. There were seven in the family; the mother, son, wife and three children, and also a young girl, the daughter of a sister who had died. The children were nice appearing and healthy and spirited. They were the children of a brother who died, but the younger Fujita brother had married their mother so as to be their father. Before going to Yanai, friends said that it was a bad time to try when it was so very cold. Because of country conditions they feared I would suffer, also they thought I would not be able to talk with the mother because of the difference in language of that province. I knew, though, that it was God's plan that I go and it did not matter whatever happened. I took a dictionary with me, but it was not used for we had no trouble at all in understanding each other, and no difficulties occurred. I know this is always true when we arise in His service and respond to His call. Christmas day we had a photograph taken of all the family together to send to our Fujita San in Haifa. The brother said his mother had not wanted to have a photograph taken when Fujita visited them more than two years ago, but when I came from so far, she was happy to have it taken, and it is truly a lovely photograph of this little mother with a sweet countenance. The next afternoon I left, as it was not necessary for me to stay longer. I gave the brother some Japanese Bahá'í literature, which he had not seen, and presents for the family."
After leaving Yanai, I stopped in Kobe, where I met three of the former friends. It was four years since I had been there and it was a joy to meet again the dear brother, Mr. Daiun Inouye. He still remained a Buddhist priest. Once he had said, "The temple is beautiful on the outside, but the spirit of Buddha no longer is there." Together we visited the friend, Mr. Sanzo Misawa, who had done so much for the friends in Japan, also the dear young woman, Mrs. Mikae (Komatsu) Arakawa and her husband. When I left in the evening to go to Kyoto to the Torii home, Mr. Inouye said to me, "This has been a very happy day."
In the Torii Home
For five happy days I had the great privilege of staying in the Torii home. There I met again Mr. Iwao Watanabe who asked me to come to his home on New Year's Day. At his request I took with me two volumes of the Bahá'í World. With the aid of his crystal he was delighted to see the pictures in the books which I explained to him and also the contents. He copied in Braille the
As it was the holiday time, Mr. Torii was free from his school work and I spent many happy hours reading to him and explaining the Bahá'í news of the day. The house was in the suburbs of the city and not easily accessible to blind people, yet every day visitors came, and through the Japanese Braille edition of Esslemont, they became interested in the Bahá'í teachings. At that time in Japan the statistics showed there were more than 76,000 blind. One evening God put a great love in my heart for a blind young man who visited the Torii home. It was His plan that he should hear His Message of love. After my return to Tokyo I corresponded with this young man whose name was Mr. Kawai. Through Bahá'u'lláh he found spiritual Light. In a letter of January 11, 1937, Mr. Torii wrote me: "Dear spiritual Mother: We have many things to thank you for today. With great joy I received your three letters and enclosures. I sent one to Mr. Kawai and the other to Miss Suzuki with translations. Mr. Kawai writes me this morning that he feels himself a Bahá'í after reading the first volume of Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, and how beautiful and wonderful the book is! He is a very fervent good Christian, but he is not fortunate. I think Miss Suzuki is very happy and grateful to receive the Braille book and also a purse you so kindly gave her. She too is a very good girl, but not so blessed in this material world. They are both helpless and have to work every day alone on massage. I have many young friends like them who need help and love. Mr. Watanabe was very happy to receive you in his home. He telephoned me to give you his thanks and greetings. It is indeed a great privilege for us to keep you in our home with nothing special in ceremonial, but in love and friendship. There is really a Bahá'í country among us. What a happy time it was for us to be with you! It is my wish for this year if I can to translate the Hidden Words into Japan. This must be done. You are always welcome at this home whenever you want to come . . ."
On January twenty-second, the students of Meiji University English Speaking Club, who I had often met with, invited me to a dinner they were having as a farewell to four students who were graduating. Several of the students were sincerely attracted to the Bahá'í teachings, and it was a privilege for me to join them, as I represented the Bahá'í Cause in Japan, and on such occasions the opportunity was always accorded me to speak.
Later a precious letter reached me from the Guardian, dated January 24, 1937, as follows:
Beloved Bahá'í Sister,