History of the Bahá'í Faith in Japan 1914-1938Barbara R. Sims.
Tokyo: Baha'i Publishing Trust of Japan, 1977
The first evening after arriving in Haifa on April 20 1937, the Guardian asked me at the dinner table to write the histories of the Bahá'í Cause in Japan and the Hawaiian Islands.
When I left Haifa, May 12, 1937, at the Guardian's request I visited the Bahá'í centers in Germany, Paris, London and the United States, where he asked me to attend the Bahá'í Summer Schools and visit all the centers as far as possible.
In December, 1937, as war clouds were becoming dark in the Far East, I wrote the Guardian asking for his guidance in regard to my return to Japan. When I left there in March, I had expected to return within the year and my library and personal effects were there. He replied through his Secretary: "He hopes that in your journey to the Western States, and particularly California, you will also find it possible to extend your stay for some time and meet as many centers as you can and thus give the believers the benefit of sharing your manifold and valuable experiences in the Cause."
In fulfilling Shoghi Effendi's request I had the great bounty of visiting about fifty Bahá'í centers in Europe and America and the Summer Schools in the United States.
While in Michigan in the summer of 1939, I felt the urge to find somewhere I could begin writing the histories and wrote of my wish to the Guardian. Suddenly in Chicago in December, the guidance came to return to my sister's home in Berkeley, California. Reaching there on December 13, two days later my sister left for Honolulu. I had not thought of remaining in her home, but it seemed it was God's plan and there I was able to begin work on the histories. This was confirmed in a letter I received from the Guardian dated Haifa, December 13, 1939, the day I had reached Berkeley. He wrote through his Secretary: "Regarding your teaching plans, as your return to Japan seems far remote at present, he would advise that you remain anywhere you wish in the United States and engage in teaching work, and would also approve of your wish to undertake in the meantime writing the history of the Cause in Japan and in the Islands of Hawaii, as you are certainly best qualified to write such history, which will no doubt prove of immense interest and value to the friends."
When the Guardian's letter reached me I had already started writing the story of the Bahá'í Cause in Hawaii.
As I had no record with me of the years spent in Japan, I have collected my letters written from there. These simple letters written from the heart I have quoted, as they tell the story of the spiritual events of those days. The only record of the intervals when I was absent from Japan is a few letters from which I have quoted.
In recording the history, I have been obliged to write of my personal experiences, but without the confirmations and favors of the Center of the Covenant and the love and prayers of the beloved believers, which upheld me at all times, nothing could have been accomplished.
Now I am in my homeland, Hawaii, where the beloved Guardian has written me, ". . . he hopes you will be able in Honolulu not only to complete your history of the Cause in Japan, but lend your active assistance to the Bahá'ís there." These words are the goal toward which I strive.
Agnes Baldwin Alexander
Honolulu, Hawaii, 1942
It was there that the Western world learned for the first time of Bahá'u'lláh. A delegate from Beirut Christian College, Dr. Henry H. Jessup, who could not attend in person sent a paper in which he wrote of Bahá'u'lláh who passed away in Bahjí, just outside the fortress of ‘Akká, the year before on May 28, 1892.
In closing his paper Dr. Jessup quoted the historic words of Bahá'u'lláh to Prof. E.G. Browne, M.A., M.B. of Cambridge University, England, a scholar of the Persian language and the only Westerner who had the great honor of meeting Him. The words as recorded by Prof. Browne follow: "We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer-up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment. . . That all nations should become as one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease and differences of race be annulled — what harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away and the Most Great Peace shall come. Is not this that which Christ foretold?"
The names of the nine delegates from Japan who were present on that historic day, Sept. 21, 1893 are: Rev. Harworth, Prof. Kozaki, Rt. Rev. Rouchi Shibata, Rt. Rev. Shaku Shoen, N. Nomura, Rt. Rev. Horin Toki, Mr. Yoshio Kawai and Riza Ringe Hirai.
When Bahá'u'lláh was manifested on this earth as the Promised One of the Ages, the whole world was quickened with new life. Although unconscious of the Source from which their inspirations came, many Japanese writers have expressed the spirit of the New Day.
In concluding his book Ideals of the Far East published in 1903, Mr. Kakuzo Okakura writes: "Today the great mass of western thought perplexes us. The mirror of Yamato is clouded, as we say. With the revolution, Japan, it is true, returns upon her past, seeking there for the new vitality she needs . . . if the thought be true, if there be indeed any spring of renewal hidden in our past, we must admit at this moment some mighty reinforcement, for the scorching drought of modern vulgarity is parching the throat of life and art. We await the flashing sword of the lightning which shall cleave the darkness. For the terrible hush must be broken and the raindrops of new vigor must refresh the earth before new flowers can spring up to cover it with bloom. But it must be from Asia herself along the ancient roadways of the race that the Great Voice shall be heard."
In the spring of 1915 the first seed from the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh appeared when a Japanese student of 18 years became illumined.
The same year in Tokyo there appeared in print writings from which the following excerpts are taken.
Prof. Uchigasaki of Waseda University, when serving as pastor of the Japanese Unitarian church in Tokyo, in an article entitled "Religion in Japan," wrote: "It may appear strange to demand a creative spirit in religion, but that is what Japanese religion needs if it is to find itself in the Taisho era, not a revival of ancient ideas and forms. It is no use to trot out again our old dogmas and notions long faded. Japan today is veritably on the verge of spiritual starvation. She does not care much for foreign food and she has little of her own. Perhaps if some prophet would arise, able to transmute the truths of universal religion into a form acceptable to the Japanese mind, there would be a wonderful revival of religion . . . What Japan thinks about when she thinks at all is the science of religion itself; not of creeds, sects and prejudices. Pure religion cannot be a superstition, nor can it savor of superstition. It is inherent in human nature; it is the desire of the little ego for the great Ego, of man for his Maker: the manifestation of the final attitude of man toward the Universe . . . What should be avoided is bigotry and stubbornness. The religion that appeals to people of thought and education must be fresh and true and free, and its truth must have the convincing power that all truth has . . . I believe in a system of national education imparting all truth to the rising generation, and in international amity which is the ultimate purpose of the Creator. All religions should thus be friendly and have a common aim."
Another young writer of new Japan, Mr. M. Yanagi, in an article entitled "Our Thirsty Free Green Minds," stated: "The time in which we live is more than a mere transitory period. It is an upheaval from the very roots producing the most surprising changes our history has ever known. Now is the full contrast of old and new, now do the East and West first touch, now is the battle of spirit and matter, an awaking from placid existence to the high stress of urgent spiritual problems . . . I am the last to hate the old, but history never teaches us to go backward . . . whatever the achievements of the past, they do not compare with the possibilities of the present . . . It is unnatural, unnecessary to live after the manner of our forefathers, for we are born to be more, and how much more at this astonishing epoch in which all things are renovated by the sacrifice of the old time honored life . . . What we look to in the future is the marriage of spirit and matter, the unity of mind and body, the meeting of East and West . . . Destruction is the first step of construction and loss is the germ of gain . . . We need Christ and Buddha not as Christians or Buddhists, but as men . . . In this age of institution, our richest legacy is the fact that we have no national sect, no established religion, no definite dogmas. We are free enough to demand religion from within. All varieties of religion afford us spiritual nourishment, for we seek the vast and free one in which the essence of all forms are."
A spiritually awakened young man, Mr. H. Takayanagi, after learning of the Bahá'í Message in 1915, expressed himself thus: "The religious world of the present period is in a state of transformation. A great religious revolution has just occurred under the banner of bringing about the unification of the world's religions, thereby realization of a universal peace. These words are what you hear from the yellow lips, also the typical
Again Mr. Takayanagi wrote: "I am very glad to notice the fact that many of our countrymen are unintentionally and unconsciously reaching the goal we aim at."
From the pen of Dr. Masaharu Anesaki, professor of Comparative Religions at the Imperial University in Tokyo, are these words from his writing on "The Present Spiritual Unrest of Japan": "The big tree of Buddhism is rotten at its heart. Christianity has not rooted firmly. The question is whether the old trees of national religion may be reinvigorated, or whether a new tree may spring from the soil."
Dr. Inazo Nitobe, a Quaker who was assisted by his American wife in his endeavor to interpret the East to the West, wrote in 1936 under the title of, "Timely Revelation." "To each person and to each circumstance there is a special revelation. What was hidden from the healthy and the strong is made clear to the sick and the weak. The poor catch a glimpse of the truth that is denied to the rich. The latter shall hear a message that is inaudible to the former. Only the proud and the malicious have no revelation of a great truth. Pride is blind and malice is deaf. In their chambers there is neither music nor light. In the cold darkness they sit, still saying to themselves, 'All that we see are subject to us,' and all they see are only phantoms. Nations that bear malice toward others or harbor pride in their bosoms shall not prosper or be happy. In the crisis through which we are passing there must be a light shining or a voice speaking, but who is seeing or who is hearing?"
1. BEGINNING OF THE BAHÁ'Í FAITH AMONG JAPANESE
First Japanese Bahá'ís
The story of the first Japanese who accepted the Bahá'í Faith begins in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Kanichi Yamamoto, a young man, came from the province of Yamaguchi in Japan to Honolulu. There in the home where he was serving in 1902 was a Bahá'í, Miss Elizabeth Muther, who told him of the Master, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Although his English was limited, he accepted the Bahá'í Message in his heart and soon after wrote in Japanese his heartfelt gratitude to the Master Who answered his supplication in a beautiful Tablet. His radiant face proclaimed the Light of the Kingdom which was ignited in his heart. In March, 1903, he went to Oakland, California, where for years he served in the home of the Bahá'í sister, Mrs. Helen S. Goodall. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá favored him with four beautiful Tablets, in one of which He addressed him, "O thou who art the single one of Japan and the unique one of the extreme Orient!" (See Tablets of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá Vol. III, pages 559-564).
The second Japanese to accept the Bahá'í Message was Mr. Saichiro Fujita, who also came from Yamaguchi province. While attending school in Oakland, California, Mrs. Kathryn Frankland became his spiritual mother. Later he had the unique distinction of faithfully serving for almost twenty years, first in the Beloved Master's home in Haifa, and after His passing, the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi. During all those years he was the one who met and assisted the Western Bahá'í pilgrims in Haifa. He also was the recipient of Tablets from the Master, two of which are published in Tablets of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá Vol. III, page 565.
The third Japanese who accepted the Bahá'í Cause while living in America, was Mr. Kenzo Torikai, of Seattle, Washington. He also received a Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.
‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Meeting With Japanese
In His westward journey the Beloved Master bestowed His blessing on Japanese people whom He met. Lady Blomfield relates in her book, The Chosen Highway, the following story of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's visit in Paris in 1911. "The Japanese Ambassador to a European capital (Viscount Arakawa — Madrid) was staying at the Hotel d'Jéna. This gentleman and his wife had been told of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's presence in Paris, and the latter was anxious to have the pleasure of meeting Him. 'I am very sad,' said her Excellency, 'I must not go out this evening as my cold is severe, and I leave early in the morning for Spain. If only there were a possibility of meeting Him.' This was told to the Master, Who had just returned after long tiring day. 'Tell the lady and her husband that, as she is unable to come to me, I will call upon her.' Accordingly, though the hour was late, through the cold and the rain He came, with His smiling courtesy, bringing joy to us all as we awaited Him in the Tapestry Room of the Hotel d'Jéna. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá talked with the Ambassador and his wife of conditions in Japan, of the great international importance of that country, of the vast service to mankind, of the work for the abolition of war, of the need for improving conditions of life for the worker, of the necessity of educating girls and boys equally."
"The religious ideal is the soul of all plans for the good of mankind. Religion must never be used as a tool by party politicians. God's politics are mighty, man's politics are feeble."
Speaking of religion and science, the two great wings with which the bird of humankind is able to soar, He said: "Scientific discoveries have increased material civilization. There is in existence a stupendous force, as yet, happily undiscovered by man. Let us supplicate God, the Beloved, that this force be not discovered by science until spiritual civilization shall dominate the human mind. In the hands of men of lower nature, this power would be able to destroy the whole earth."
In the Spring of 1912, in Tokyo, three Japanese of distinction formed the nucleus of a Movement called "Concordia," Viscount Eiichi Shibusawa, a banker and honored financier whose life was guided by the moral teachings of Confucius, President Jinzo Naruse, a Christian and founder of the first Women's College in Japan and Dr. Masaharu Anesaki, a Buddhist and Professor at the Tokyo University. The object of the movement was to try and find a common ground on which all nations could harmonize. President Naruse then undertook a journey around the world in the interest of the movement. He carried with him an autograph book in which he collected the expressions of goodwill from prominent people in the different countries he visited. On his return to Japan these were translated into Japanese and published. Mr. K. Obata in his life of Viscount Shibusawa wrote of "Concordia" that it might "in some distant future reach its goal." In London in 1912, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Secretary recorded the following: "A distinguished Japanese, the President of the Women's University in Tokyo, who had been in the United States for many months, came to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and showed Him an article on the Concordia Movement in Japan which appeared in the Oriental Review of November, 1912. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá spoke to him about the principles of the Bahá'í Cause and how we are in need of Divine power to put these principles into practice. He said, 'Just as the sun is the source of all lights in the solar system, so today Bahá'u'lláh is the Center of unity of the human race and of the peace of the world.' ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote a beautiful prayer in his autograph book and earnestly pleaded with him to go back to Japan and spread these lofty ideals." The prayer follows: "O God! The darkness of struggle, competition and war among various religions, nations and races has covered the horizon of Reality and hidden the heaven of Truth. The world needs the light of guidance, therefore, O God, bless us with Thy grace, so that the Sun of Reality may illumine the East and the West."
On September 12, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá reached Chicago and went to the home of Mrs. Corinne True where Mr. Saichiro Fujita was waiting to meet him. In the Diary of Mirza Mahmood Eben Ismail of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's travels in America* is the following: "A Japanese friend was also there, Mr. Fujita by name, about whom ‘Abdu'l-Bahá made inquiries and told him that the ruler in Japan had been changed and that Emperor . . . was no more and so was his empire no more. Since Mr. Fujita had become a believer he had attained immortality thereby. 'Look at Napoleon,' said ‘Abdu'l-Bahá to him. 'He conquered the whole of Europe; became the Emperor of France and in the end he was taken prisoner and sent to St. Helena. On the other hand Christ established by the aid of the Holy Spirit an everlasting empire on this earth. The kingdoms of thousands like Napoleon would disappear while the Kingdom of Christ would last till eternity, such is the Kingdom of God.'" The Diary continues: "Chicago 14th September, 1912. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá went out for a walk on the riverside. The talk turned on a Japanese Admiral who had sacrificed his life for the sake of the Emperor of Japan. Perhaps he would have been more useful for his country and for his nation had he not committed suicide. As a matter of fact the Emperor of Japan had not done for the Admiral a thousandth part of what Bahá'u'lláh had done for us."
Fujita, as he was lovingly called by the Bahá'ís, accompanied the Master to Kenosha, and on September 17, when He left Chicago for California, Fujita came with others from Malden, Massachusetts, to join Him. On October 22, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá reached San Francisco where Mr. Yamamoto, the first Japanese Bahá'í, met Him. On one occasion ‘Abdu'l-Bahá gave Persian names to his three little boys. To Hirose, the eldest, he gave the name of Hassan; to Hinju, Hossein, and to Masao, Farouk.
In the Diary of Mirza Mahmood is the following: "San Francisco, October 5. Two Japanese friends came to see ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. He expressed great happiness in seeing their faith and sincerity. He said, 'These are events which will bedeck the pages of history. This is in reality a miracle that Japanese gentlemen meet with Persians in San Francisco with such love and amity. This is through the power of Bahá'u'lláh and must constitute a cause of Our thankfulness and happiness. If it had been said that His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh brought a man from heaven and another from the earth and caused them to meet midway between the earth and heaven you would have considered it rare, but the power of Bahá'u'lláh unravels all difficulties. I am very much pleased with the Japanese because they have courage and intelligence. When they put their hands on a work they carry it to a finish.' The Japanese friends repeatedly requested Him to visit Japan. They submitted to Him the capacity of the Japanese. They also asked His mission to contribute articles to the Japanese newspapers to which He consented with great pleasure."
On October 7, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá addressed a Japanese audience at the Japanese YMCA in Oakland. Mr. Kano, a Japanese poet who was present, read a poem he had composed in eulogy of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. The address was translated by two interpreters; first into English, and then into Japanese. (See The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 337-342).
The Diary of Mirza Mahmood records the following: "San Francisco, October 14. A Japanese friend with others came to see Him. The Master said, 'I wish you would become heavenly and not Japanese, or Arab, English, Persian, Turk or American. You should become divine and act according to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Observe! I am one of the servants of Bahá'u'lláh, helpless and weak, but as I am under the shadow of His teachings, you see what confirmations attend me.'"
On October 25, when ‘Abdu'l-Bahá left San Francisco, Fujita accompanied Him as far as Chicago. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá then instructed him to study gardening and electricity and told him that He would sometime send for him to come to Haifa. For seven years Fujita waited until the end of the great war when ‘Abdu'l-Bahá cabled for him to come. In Haifa until 1938, he faithfully served, first the Master, and after Him, the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi. He was the one who met and assisted all the Western Bahá'í pilgrims. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá said of him he was "all love and service." In a letter from Shoghi Effendi, dated January 27, 1924, he wrote, "Fujita is with us, happy, active and extremely helpful. His presence is such a help and support to me in my work."
Bahá'í Travelers Pass through Japan
The Bahá'í Message of the coming of Bahá'u'lláh and the dawn of a New Day was first heralded in Japan by Bahá'í travelers who passed through the country. Mr. Charles M. Remey of Washington, D.C. and Howard C. Struven of Baltimore, Maryland, the first Bahá'ís to make the complete circuit of the world, sojourned on their way in Japan. In a Tablet to Mr. Remey, dated May 9, 1909 ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote:
Rest thou assured that the confirmations of the Blessed Perfection shall encircle thee from all sides. Travel thou with Mr. Howard Struven to Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, and from there depart toward Japan and meet Prof. Barakatullah. Convey to him my yearning greeting and say:
On December 27, 1909, the Bahá'í brothers reached Tokyo where they remained for six days sowing pure seeds of the Bahá'í Message. Through the help of Prof. Barakatullah of India, who had been associated with the Bahá'ís in the United States, a public lecture was arranged for Mr. Remey to speak that afternoon at the YMCA. Notices inviting the public to the meeting had
* Later published as Mahmoud's Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Journey to America. Translated by Mohi Sobhani, with the assistance of Shirley Macias. (Oxford: George Ronald, 1998). [-J.W.]
In a letter to the Honolulu Bahá'ís Mr. Remey wrote: "The Holy Cause in Japan is starting well. The enclosed notice will give you an idea of our meetings, the first one, which was about as large as the one we held at the [Alexander] Young Hotel (in Honolulu). After that Mr. and Mrs. Dodge asked fourteen people to their little home where the Message was also given. Various smaller interviews were held for Truth Seekers, so the six days spent in Tokyo passed very quickly . . . I should strongly advise that the line across the Pacific be strengthened with as many threads of correspondence as possible." In another letter to the Spiritual Assembly of Chicago Mr. Remey wrote: "In Japan the spiritual field of work is ready for the laborers. The Japanese need religion, and, unlike most people, they realize this need and are searching. In Japan there is no antagonism — none whatever. Even the Buddhist priests hail with joy the coming of another Messenger of Peace . . ."
Prof. Barakatullah did not heed the Master's loving counsels to him through Mr. Remey. In the Diary kept by Mirza Mahmood of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's travels in America, he records the following words of the Master speaking of Prof. Barakatullah. "This man culls the teachings of the Blessed Cause and publishes them in the name of Islam in the illusive hope of building an imaginary castle and deriving profit by deceiving Muhammadans, but in the long run he will find nothing but manifest loss." Prof. Barakatullah had left Japan before the arrival of the Bahá'í pioneers sent there by the Master in 1914.
The next Bahá'í traveler to pass through Japan was Mme Aurelia Bethlen, who reached there the end of May, 1911. Among the Japanese people whom she met, she sowed seeds of the love of God in this New Day.
In the spring of 1914, Mons. and Mme Dreyfus-Barney spent a week in Tokyo. The dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. P. H. Dodge, entertained them at tea and then invited friends to hear them speak. Although the Dodges did not become believers, they showed a helpful, open-minded spirit towards the Faith and many times assisted the friends.
Through instructions from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in 1914, two Bahá'í residents of Honolulu went to Japan to spread the Fragrances of God. Dr. George Jacob Augur arrived there from Honolulu in June, 1914, and on November first, coming from war stricken Europe, I reached Kobe.
George Jacob Augur M.D.
Dr. Augur was a homeopathic physician who came from Oakland, California, to reside in Honolulu, where he practiced his profession. A man of independent convictions, he was accustomed to stand alone. In Honolulu he heard of the Bahá'í Message. God endowed him with the gift of insight, and it was with deep understanding he accepted the Bahá'í Faith. He was favored with six Tablets from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Concerning the first one, he told me the following: "I wrote to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá asking him for an explanation of the words in the Bible, 'Christ was tempted in all points like as we are yet without sin.' I could not understand how that could be, for to be tempted means to desire to do something one ought not to do and Christ was God and you cannot tempt God." ‘Abdu'l-Bahá answered him:
O thou who seekest the Kingdom of God! Your epistle was received and its contents became evident.
In regard to the second Tablet Dr. Augur received, he said: "It answered a letter I wrote ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in which I said, 'To me Thou art God. The world will never know God more accurately than Thou art reflecting Him. The utmost stretch of imagination cannot belie Thy magnitude.'" ‘Abdu'l-Bahá answered him:
O thou who art firm in the Covenant! Thy eloquent and beautiful letter was received. His honor, Mr. Remey, is indeed a believer and assured.
Dr. Augur was a man of few words, but his love for ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and insight into His station gave power to his words. Refined in his taste, he had great appreciation of Japan. The small garden at the back of his home in Honolulu, he had designed in the form of a Japanese garden. After a visit to Japan, he had a desire to return there and practice his profession if it were possible. He told me the following in regard to the third Tablet he received from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá: "I wrote ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, and as I remember, I did not ask Him if I could go to Japan to teach, but I did ask that if it was his wish, I would like to go to make an indefinite stay, which shows that ‘Abdu'l-Bahá knows us better than we know ourselves." The Tablet follows:
O thou dear son! From thy letter the fragrances of the rose garden of significances was inhaled, that praise be to God, thou art assisted by the Divine confirmations, hast found the way to the Kingdom of God and thy heart and soul are quickened. Arise thou to perform the blessed intention thou art holding and travel thou to Japan and lay there the foundation of the Cause of God, that is, summon the people to the Kingdom of God. Japan has great capacity, but there needs be a teacher who will speak by the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. I hope thou wilt become assisted in this.Translated by M. Ahmad Sohrab, Nov. 21, 1913, Ramleh, Egypt.
Again ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote in the fourth Tablet addressed to Dr. Augur:
O thou who art advancing toward the Kingdom! Thy letter was received. It indicated, praise be to God, that in the matter of advancing toward the Kingdom of God thou art firm and steadfast and thou hast resolved to go to Japan to spread the Divine Teachings. This lofty magnanimity befits praise. I hope thou mayest become confirmed therein and in the affairs of the Kingdom thou mayest follow the inspiration and the teachings of God and not any human suggestion. Rest thou assured that thou wilt become assisted.Translated by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Feb. 12, 1914.
Preparation for Work in Japan
In a mysterious way God prepares souls for the work which He destines for them in His service.
Miss Ume Tsuda, who passed through Honolulu on a lecturing tour, aroused in me the first enthusiasm for the country of Japan. When seven years old she came to the United States with the first company of Japanese girls sent by the Japanese government to be educated in America. After graduation from Bryn Mawr College, she founded in Tokyo an English School for Japanese girls. A wonderfully alert and enthusiastic little lady, from the night I heard her speak I was captivated with interest in Japan.
Then I began to search for books about the country, taking notes on its history, religions, and culture. Little did I dream that it was the guidance of God which was preparing me for future work in that country. During those days an inspiration came to me that I would go to Japan, but it did not occur to me that it would be to teach the Cause of God. Afterwards circumstances were such that the way did not open for me to go, and I wondered why the inspiration had come, and spoke of it to a friend. She said, "It means you are going but it is not yet the time."
One day in my presence my dear father said, "Agnes is to go to Japan and I have put the money in the bank for her when the right time comes." Although the spiritual veil was not lifted from his eyes, he was often inspired to guide me.
A year or more passed when suddenly, on February 22, 1913, my dear father was called from this world, and six weeks later my dear mother joined him in the heavenly realm. Then my sister, the only remaining member of the family at home, sailed for California and the home where I was born was broken.
My sister wrote me from California that she wished I might go to Japan because it was our father's wish and I was so well prepared. In God's plan however, there was a spiritual preparation which I was yet to experience. Torn from the home I loved, the only desire I had left in life was to serve His Cause. I had read words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá spoken in England in which He said, "I have a lamp in my hand searching through the lands and seas to find souls who can become heralds of the Cause. Day and night I am engaged in this work." The words rang in my ears and I supplicated that His lamp might find me. One morning the Master seemed very near and a joy filled my heart with the inspiration that I was to go to my beloved spiritual mother, May Maxwell in Montreal. I felt a Tablet was coming to me and later that day it was received. The Master did not write, though, that I was to go to Montreal, but the inner guidance had come. When I met the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, in Haifa, in 1937, and spoke of the inspirations which came to me at times, he replied, "It is the Master."
May Maxwell had once written me that some day I would come to her home. At the time, during the life of my parents, it had not seemed possible, but now the way opened, and in October, 1913, I left Honolulu. In the Maxwell home, which had been blessed by the presence of the Master, I spent a month. May was then the mother of a little girl whom ‘Abdu'l-Bahá called His child. One day while there I read His words in which He said the believers should learn Esperanto. From that moment there was ignited in my heart the desire to obey His request.
The winter of 1914 I spent in Brooklyn, N.Y. where through association with the beloved Bahá'ís, I received spiritual reinforcement and a new bond of love and unity came into my life. While there a Tablet from the Master reached me which contained the first intimation that it was God's plan for me to go to Japan. He wrote in part: "O thou dear daughter, thy letter was received. It became the cause of infinite rejoicing for it expressed eloquently thy faith and thy turning thy face toward the Kingdom of God. This light of guidance which is ignited by the lamp of thy heart must become more brilliant day by day and shed its light to all parts. Therefore, if thou travelest toward Japan unquestionably divine confirmations shall descend upon thee . . ."
My father's youngest sister and her Italian husband had invited me to their home in Milan, Italy. As it was traveling "toward Japan," I accepted.
One evening before leaving Brooklyn, I was invited to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Rufus W. Powell, Bahá'ís who were interested in Esperanto. There my desire to learn the language was fulfilled, and I received my first instruction in Esperanto, which Mr. Powell said would be very helpful to me in Japan. From that time I began to study the language by myself.
In early May, 1914, I sailed from New York direct to Genoa, Italy. Among the friends who came to the steamer to see me off was dear little Mrs. Rufus Powell from Brooklyn. She brought me an Esperanto student book, which she had covered with linen on which she had
Arrival in Italy
To dear Mrs. Lincoln and her daughter Della I wrote: "7 via San Vincenzo, Milan, Italy, June 8, 1914. God's love and mercy is most wonderful to me, and oh, that I may be worthy of it! Even though you are not the one who is traveling, yet you are doing a great work for you are helping this instrument, and God grant that it may accomplish something for the Cause. My Aunt met me the morning of May 21, at Genoa, and my Uncle came later and together we came to Milan. The first church we entered in Genoa, such a restful feeling came over me as I said the Greatest Name. I spoke of the uplift I felt to my Aunt and she said, 'It is because so many prayers are said in these churches one feels the atmosphere, . . . ."
On May 23, I gave the Message to Miss Lizy Amport, the young lady who lived with my Aunt. I spoke in French and I was so eager to tell her that the words seemed to come and she understood all I said. As my Aunt was the President of the Rudolph Steiner group of Milan, I found her friends ready to listen to the Bahá'í Message and every one heard something of the Cause.
I wrote: "The first of July my Aunt and Uncle may be leaving for America on their way to Honolulu. I have no plans as yet but God will surely guide me. I can trust Him, can I not?" When asked by my Aunt where I would go, I suggested Stuttgart, Germany, where there were Bahá'ís, and so my trunk was sent by slow freight directly there.
On July 1, I left Milan with Lizy Amport. We stopped in Locarno on Lake Maggiore, where I waited to hear from Mme Forni, a Bahá'í whom I expected to meet there. I wrote to Mrs. Joseph Hannen: "Locarno, July 3, 1914. I had hoped to join your sister (Alma Knobloch in Germany), but the time was not ripe. I have not yet received any word from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and I await His bidding before going farther. . . . I am studying Esperanto and have joined the Association (U.E.A.). It gives one many opportunities in traveling to spread the Cause."
After two weeks, word came from Mme Forni, who was at a Pension called "Monti Verita," where I joined her. Unaware that "an unforeseen calamity" was on humanity, we called in the Greatest Name on the mount. The power of those prayers must have brought protection to us. In a letter of September 6, from Geneva, Switzerland, to the dear Brooklyn friends I wrote: "I have been wonderfully guided and cared for by the Hand of God. I wrote you from Locarno where I was waiting to meet Mme Forni. One day the telephone rang to tell me Mme Forni was at Ascona, the next village and wanted me to come to lunch. Strange to say she was at the very place my Aunt had wanted me to go to at first, as Frau Hofmann, the manager, was a friend of my Aunt and she spoke to me in the telephone saying she was my Aunt's good friend and my Aunt had written her of me. I cannot tell you how good it sounded to me, for I had come to the point where I longed for a loving heart and the sight of a Bahá'í. Though it was pouring it did not take long to go to the funicular railway and down Locarno Monti, then by automobile stage four miles to Ascona, and then a climb up another mountain to Monti Verita. There on entering the dining room the first thing I saw was The Star of the West, on the table. It seems it had long been Mme Forni's wish to make this place a Bahá'í center for Switzerland and they had first ordered the magazine. I had to return to Locarno that night but the next day I went again and had a wonderful time with Mme Forni and Frau Hofmann. They joined me in saying the Greatest Name 95 times for God's blessing on that mountain (may it indeed become a mountain for Truth!) . . . Mme Forni is Polish-German, but married to an Italian. She has had a wonderful life and marvelous experience in healing the sick. The next day I moved to Monti Verita and Mme Forni left for her mountain home the following day, expecting to return to take me there in a week, but it was not in God's Plan. Suddenly the war broke out and I found myself without money, as the banks refused to cash anything. Through prayer I was led to come to Geneva with some French people and have been wonderfully cared for. I came to see the American Consul and he has been my best friend, but I was not able to cash my money until after I received this Tablet." The Tablet follows:
O thou my dear daughter! Thy letter was received. It imparted great happiness. Praise be to God that dear daughter is sacrificing herself in the Path of Bahá'u'lláh and enduring every difficulty. It is now more advisable for thee to depart directly to Japan and while there be engaged in the diffusion of the Fragrances of God. . . Today the greatest of all divine bestowals is teaching the Cause of God for it is fraught with confirmations. Every teacher is confirmed and is favored at the divine Threshold. In the estimation of the Ideal King, the army which is in front of the battlefield is encircled with the glances of His mercifulness and in the sight of the divine Farmer, the sower of the seed is accepted and favored. I hope that thou mayest be like a realm conquering army and a farmer, therefore thy voyage to Japan is preferred to everything else. Still thou art perfectly free.
While I remained in Geneva I visited the rooms of the Universal Esperanto Association which I had joined. There I met a Russian lady Esperantist. When she heard that I was going to Japan, she told me of a blind Russian young man, Vasily Eroshensko, an Esperantist who was there and asked me to look him up. This was the opening which brought great blessings into my life through friendship with the blind. The Russian lady took me to her home where I gave the Message. She said she would tell of it in city and town. She translated part of the Honolulu Unity Calendar into Esperanto and gave it to me to take to her blind friend in Tokyo.
After the letter, which I have quoted, was written, a telegram came from the London Steamship Office informing me that all accommodations on the steamer to Japan were taken. Then I telegraphed to the American Consul in Marseilles, where I expected to take the steamer, and asked his help in securing passage for me. He replied that there were no vacancies on steamers to Japan until November. As a last resort I wrote a personal letter to the agent of the Steamship Company in Marseilles, and said I would accept anything if he could get me on the steamer. No answer had come and it was only a few days before the steamer was to sail. I felt then that I must be wrong myself. As I was repeating the prayer of the Báb, "Is there any remover of difficulties . . .", a knock came at my door. A telegram had come from the agent in Marseilles informing me he could get me on the steamer if I would answer and come immediately. I hastened to reply that I would accept and come without further delay. Again difficulties came in my path. I was told I could not take a trunk on the train, and it was even uncertain whether I could reach Marseilles, as the trains were being used to convey wounded French soldiers to southern France, and often the passengers were left at stations where there was no food, that the trains might be used for the soldiers. When I spoke to the American Consul, he advised me to try and check my trunk and see if I could not get through. This I did and started on the train. Although we saw wounded soldiers and nurses in the stations in Southern France, our train went through without interference, and I reached Marseilles the day before the steamer was to sail. I went immediately to the American Consulate to have my passport visaed. When I told the Consul I had come with my trunk and would sail the next day, he said, "Your trunk can never come through to sail tomorrow." Returning to the hotel, I found it had already arrived! Then I went to see the steamship agent. He explained to me that a German lady had engaged her passage six months before, but now France and Germany were at war, and he said, "I can give you her place and if she should come I can have her arrested." Thus through the power of the Covenant of God, the way opened for me to go to Japan.
Voyage to Japan
The next day when I boarded the steamer, a French lady, Mme Casulli, was the only other passenger from Marseilles. Like most of the passengers, she had engaged her passage six months in advance. We were to be cabin mates. The steamer was not large nor elegant, but there was not a better cabin on it than ours. How great are the favors of God if only we have faith and obey!
Port Said was the first port at which we were to stop. There I hoped to meet the Bahá'í brother, Mírzá Yazdí, who later married ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's youngest daughter. I felt obliged to make some explanation of my cabin mate, Mme Casulli, about my Faith, but did not think she would have any interest in the Cause. On the steamer was a Greek young man who was often with us, as he spoke French and Mme Casulli knew very little English. He had been obliged to leave Belgium, where he had been in business, and was returning to his home in Port Said. As we three were together on the deck I told Mme Casulli that I was a Bahá'í and asked if she knew of the Faith. She replied "no," but the young Greek immediately became aflame to know of the Cause. I gave him some pamphlets and he said that he would translate the small booklet which contained the Bahá'í principles into Belgian and after the war he wished to return there and spread the Teachings. As he knew Mirza Yazdi, whom he said was a very good man, he accompanied me ashore to his store.
At Port Said the captain received orders to stop at Aden, Arabia, because of the hazard of sailing in the Indian Ocean where the German cruiser "Emden" was operating. At Aden we remained for five days before permission came to continue the voyage. It was a thrilling experience for me to go ashore in Arabia and touch for the first time holy ground where a Prophet of God had lived. Unaware of the reality of Muhammad, most of the passengers were not interested and I was the only lady to go ashore twice. From Aden we proceeded without lights, except shaded ones at night, until we reached Hong Kong.
One evening as I sat with Mme Casulli, I saw she was looking at my Bahá'í ring stone. I told her it was a Bahá'í stone and she replied that she had thought so. Then I began to tell her of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. She listened and said it was the message she was waiting to hear. God assisted me to speak in French, which she said
As Mme Casulli and I were always together, (she was the only French person and I the only American on the steamer), we attracted others and an English lady who spoke French fluently soon joined us and became deeply interested in the Cause.
One evening Mme Casulli left me to write. When she returned she asked me if I knew to Whom she had been writing. Then she showed me the beginning and the ending of her letter which was in French. Translated it began, "To Thou Prophet Whom I seek," and ended, "I hope to attain the highest and say I am a Bahá'í." At Hong Kong dear Mme Casulli left me. There we learned that while we were passing through the Indian Ocean, the "Emden" had captured five vessels. Before we parted, as I was writing to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, I asked her if she wished to add anything. She replied, only that she might have a Tablet from Him, and that when her husband's contract would be up in Hong Kong, that she might return and try and teach the Cause of God. From Japan I wrote to the friends: "I have had a letter from my French friend, Mme Casulli, in Hong Kong. She writes me: 'I translated with much pleasure the Tablet that you sent me with your last letter and I wish to receive one for myself, for I am certain that ‘Abdu'l-Bahá is with me.'" (Translated from the French.) It made me so happy to have her write me these words, and I wrote her that even if she had no French literature, which she longed for so much, or did not receive a Tablet, she had the greatest gift in knowing in her heart ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.
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Arrival in Japan
After a voyage of nearly five weeks the Miyazaki Maru reached Kobe, the first port in Japan on November first, 1914. There I received a letter from my dear friend, Mrs. Philip H. Dodge, to whom I had written asking her to find a place for me to stay in Tokyo. She directed me to take a train from Kobe and stop at Kyoto, the old capital, on the way to Tokyo. In a letter to the friends I wrote from Tokyo on February 18, 1915: "Since arriving in Japan on November 1, the days have all been wonderful. As our steamer neared the shores of Japan, I sent a supplication to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá for His guidance, putting all my trust and care in Him. I sealed the letter but never mailed it, but He heard my prayer . . . I have not been out seeking people, but they have all seemed to be placed in my path in the most wonderful ways. Oh, the whole world is simply hungering for this Message of Truth and Love and there is joy unspeakable for all those who will arise and go forth into the 'front of the battlefield.' The first day, as we landed in Kobe, the way opened to give the Message to a shipmate, and as we traveled on the train to Kyoto, the Star of the West was being read by my companions. My good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Dodge, had written to me to stop in Kyoto and see a young lady who had once been in Honolulu. I little thought I was going to give her the Message, but so it was. And then again on the train coming from Kyoto to Tokyo I met a young Arab who devoured the Message in the few hours we were together."
The young lady I met in Kyoto, Miss Lillian Nicholson, after nearly twenty-seven years, I met again in California. It was a touching meeting. She looked at my face and said, "I see the same light in your eyes that I saw in Kyoto." She has since written me: "I do have a beautiful memory and a perfectly clear picture of a lovely glowing faced, young, blond lady as she entered our hotel dining room in Kyoto, Japan with two men who seemed so happily absorbed in what she was saying. We all turned and watched you as you entered. Really you were beautiful and a light seemed to shine right through you, more like a shining spirit. Later I had the pleasure of meeting you in one of the other rooms. I was attracted to a little ring on your finger (later I learned that it was a Bahá'í ring) and used that as an excuse to talk to you as I was keenly interested to know what it was that gave you such a radiating spirit. You happily and graciously then told me of what the ring stood for and something of the Bahá'í religion and what it had done for you, something of the wonderful change that it had made in your life . . ." I was entirely unconscious of how God was using me, for it was the power of the Center of the Covenant which was manifest, He Who had sent me forth with His great confirmations, enabling me to pass through all difficulties and reach Japan in safety.
I remained a few days in Kyoto, where I received the first mail in many weeks. Dear Mrs. Corinne True enclosed in her letter to me a clipping from a Chicago newspaper of a very fine article on the Cause by Isabel Fraser. When I left Kyoto by train for Tokyo the morning of November 6, in the compartment with me was an English couple and a dark skinned young man. In our longing to convey the Message, I took from Mrs. True's letter the newspaper clipping and passed it to the couple with the words, "Have you seen this?" They looked at it and then returned it to me unaware of its reality. My attention was then attracted to the young man who was looking intently at the paper. Then he asked me if he might see it. Soon after the English couple left the train. The young man then told me that as soon as I spoke to the couple, he had a great desire to know what it was I had. He said he did not wish to be bold, but the light he saw in my face was like that of a young girl at her first party. We spent several hours together before he left the train at Yokohama. He told me that he was an Arab, and a Muhammadan from Shanghai. I told him of the Bahá'í Faith and before we parted that night, I had given him my book of the Hidden Words and Prayers. He said for the first time in many years he would read a prayer from the book that night. We parted at Yokohama and have never met since.
Late that Friday night of November 6, I reached Tokyo where Dr. G.J. Augur, who had preceded me to Japan, and others were at the station to greet me. Mrs. Dodge had arranged for me to have a room across the street from their home, at Kudan Ue, which means, "above nine steps." Mme Bethlen had stayed while in Tokyo in this house, and also Dr. Augur when he arrived in Tokyo. Here the Cause of God was to be first established in the Empire of Japan.
Mr. and Mrs. Dodge, who were universal in their spiritual outlook, held meetings in their home on Sunday evenings, where Japanese friends joined with them. The first Sunday evening in Tokyo I attended the meeting, and after it was over found myself surrounded by three Japanese men to whom I told the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. I told them where I was living, that I had come to Japan only for the sake of the Bahá'í Cause, and that anyone was welcome to come to see me at any time.
Establishing the First Bahá'í Meeting
Dr. Augur and I had decided that we would hold a Bahá'í meeting the first Friday afternoon, even if we were the only ones present. A few days later, one of the men to whom I had spoken of the Cause on Sunday evening, came to see me and asked if we would have a meeting, so I invited him to come on the Friday afternoon. At that first Bahá'í meeting held in Japan in the sitting room of the house where I was living, five were present, among whom were two Japanese men, one the man who had called on me, and the other, Mr. Akinobu Naito, a teacher of English in a Japanese school who was instructing Dr. Augur in the Japanese language. We read from the Writings and prayers of Bahá'u'lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, and Dr. Augur recited a portion of a wonderful Tablet he had received from the Master, which follows:
O thou herald of the Kingdom of God! Thy letter was received. A thousand times bravo to thy high magnanimity and exalted aim! Trusting in
God and while turning thy face toward the Kingdom of Abhá, unfurl thou the divine Flag in Tokyo and cry at the top of thy voice: O ye people! The Sun of Reality hath appeared and flooded all the regions with its glorious light; it has upraised the Standard of the Oneness of the world of humanity and summoned all mankind to the refulgent Truth. The cloud of Mercy is pouring, the zephyr of Providence is wafting and the world of humanity is being stirred and moved. The divine Spirit is conferring eternal life, the heavenly lights are illumining the hearts, the table of the sustenance of the Kingdom is spread and adorned with all kinds of foods and victuals. O ye concourse of men! Awake! Awake! Become mindful! Become mindful! Open ye the seeing eye! Unstop the hearing ear! Hark! Hark! The soft notes of the Heavenly Music are streaming down, ravishing the ears of the people of spiritual discernment. Ere long this transcendent Light will wholly enlighten the East and the West! In short, with a resounding voice, with a miraculous power, and with the magnetism of the Love of God, teach thou the Cause of God and rest assured that the Holy Spirit shall confirm thee. Translated by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, August 12, 1914, Haifa, Palestine.
The letter to the friends of February 18, 1915, continues: "The first Friday after my arrival here, Dr. Augur and I with the confirmations of God inaugurated the first regular Bahá'í meeting in Japan, and with the exception of January 1, these meetings have been held every Friday since.
"On November 26, which besides being ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Day, is my spiritual birthday, and also this year was the American Thanksgiving Day, the room in which I am now writing was consecrated to the Center of the Covenant. That day I had a joyful Bahá'í party to which the friends both Japanese and European were invited. Since that day this room has been our Bahá'í center, and I have felt it is not for me to say who shall enter it. It is His room and all are His children. This is the front door of the house and my bedroom adjoins, so it is very convenient for me, and nearly every day the Message of the Kingdom is discussed here with someone. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's picture, which Mrs. True gave me in Chicago, has a prominent place in the room. The other day when an American lady, who had heard the Message, came to see me, her eyes filled with tears as she looked upon this picture.
"The Message of the Kingdom has certainly been raised in Tokyo! Shortly after my arrival, a Japanese lady reporter, who came to see me, wrote the first article which appeared in the newspaper which is considered the best in Japan and has a very wide circulation."
The lady reporter, Miss Tanaka, had been educated in an English School and spoke English fluently. I told her from my heart of the Cause. She did not take notes. but the article she wrote for the Asahi, when translated, I found to be remarkably fine. Was it not a sign of the New Day that in that oriental country, it was a woman whom God chose to write the first article about the Divine Cause!
The letter continues: "Then Dr. Augur wrote by request an article for a theological magazine. This he afterward printed in booklet form, adding the message to the people of Tokyo which ‘Abdu'l-Bahá sent him in a Tablet. The booklet gives a very full history of the Revelation. A Japanese Buddhist paper has also taken up the subject, first reprinting the article written by the Japanese lady, and then copying Dr. Augur's article, and lastly coming to a meeting and writing it up, though the reporter who came could not speak English. Since then another Japanese lady reporter has visited me. As she was leaving, she asked to take my picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and the next day it appeared in her paper with another description of our meeting. The fact that I am a young lady traveling alone and teaching the Cause seems to impress the Japanese greatly. I have been twice asked for my picture for their papers. I am so happy to think, though, that for the first time, the picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá has appeared in a paper of this country, and that it should have been a woman who had it printed speaks of the time in which we are living . . . Not only have the Japanese papers printed articles, but the leading English paper here reprinted, at my request, a long article which was written for a Chicago paper by Isabel Fraser.
"One of my most ardent friends here is a blind Russian boy, (Vasily Eroshenko). He is the first fruits of my joining the Universal Esperanto Association. At the rooms in Geneva, I met a Russian lady Esperantist, who asked me to look this boy up in Tokyo. One evening I attended the Esperanto meeting here and got his address. At the meeting I was asked to tell a story, so I told the story of the Bahá'í Faith, which was translated into Esperanto. This Russian boy, who is twenty-four years old, comes to me twice a week in the evening. He has taken down in English Braille some of the Bahá'í teachings which I have read to him, and then he has translated them into Esperanto, and they are to be printed in a Japanese Esperanto paper. Now we are translating the Hidden Words into Esperanto. Dr. Augur's Bahá'í booklet has already been put into Braille for the blind to read. My Russian friend is studying massage in the School for the Blind here. He is a most remarkable young man and came alone to Japan from Moscow." On February 4, I wrote of him. "Today I attended a concert at the Blind Institute where he is studying massage. When I was leaving, as he heard I had a little cold and it was raining, he said to me, 'You must take care of yourself for you are a Bahá'í and Bahá'ís are rare.'" The letter of February 18 continues: "I fear this letter is already far too long and yet I have not begun to tell of the many wonderful experiences of every day here. Every Friday new faces appear in the meeting and many hearts have been touched. A young Japanese man who was one of thirty Oriental students to visit ‘Abdu'l-Bahá one night in New York, has attended our meeting and told beautifully of his experience, though he is not a Bahá'í, and does not as yet realize who ‘Abdu'l-Bahá is. On Christmas day a young man was brought to the meeting who was thirsting for Truth. I felt in my heart he was sent by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and he told me afterwards, he felt he had received a Christmas present."
Shortly after my arrival in Tokyo, a Japanese came to see me. As he did not speak English, I asked my landlord to translate for me. He said he had read in a newspaper of the Bahá'í Revelation and he believed Bahá'u'lláh was Miroku whom the Buddhists were expecting. As I explained the Bahá'í teachings to him, the landlord became interested and remarked that he liked the Bahá'í teaching because there was no quarreling in
On January 29, 1915, I wrote a friend: "It is such a wonderful life God has permitted me to have here in Japan and how grateful I should be. As Dr. Augur said the other day if we should thank God throughout eternity it would not be too long. . . . Every Friday new souls come. My room is consecrated to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and I have asked His blessing in it, so I feel I have nothing to do about who come to the meetings. . . . One Friday a rather strange looking man came. That day Dr. Augur did not come. He said he had heard through the Buddhist paper which printed in four editions about the Revelation and at the end gave the name of this house and Friday afternoon to anyone wanting to know more. They did this entirely of their own accord. From this man the next week came a most beautiful soul to me, so we never know when a soul comes to us what will be the outcome. God surely leads me to those who need me and I don't feel that I need seek any out . . . I woke up the other morning with such joy. It was that I was independent of all on this earth."
First Meeting With Japanese Esperantists
On February 4, 1915, I wrote: "One night I attended the Esperanto meeting. I was received cordially. I took with me the Bahá'í Revelation in Esperanto. They asked me to tell them a story in English which one of their number would translate into Esperanto, so I told them the Bahá'í story. They showed great interest. One of them said he had read of me in the paper, and had wanted to meet me. They invited me to attend all their meetings as long as I was here."
God used this language, which came into the world through the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, to spread His Message in Japan. That night, two weeks after I had reached Tokyo, when I attended the first Esperanto meeting in Japan, was the beginning of my work in making the Bahá'í teachings known among the Esperantists of Japan. From the northern island of Hokkaido to Nagasaki in Kyushu, as well as Korea, the Message of Bahá'u'lláh was heard, for Esperanto was more widely spread in Japan than in any country outside of Russia.
The Japanese teacher, Mr. Naito, who attended the Bahá'í meeting, in his class one day told the students there was a lady in Tokyo who was teaching a new religion, and if any of them wished to meet her, he would introduce them. Four students then came with him to see me. One of them, Kikutaro Fukuta, told me afterwards, that when his teacher mentioned a new religion, it was a great day in his life for he immediately felt it was the truth. Another one copied the entire book, Ten Days in the Light of ‘Akká [by Julia M. Grundy, online at bahai-library.com/grundy_ten_days_akka. -J.W.] writing in a beautiful fine script in a notebook. When it was completed he had it bound and brought it to me to write on the fly leaf. It was just nineteen pages. I wrote a prayer that all his family might become illumined by the Light of the New Day. His home was in the northern island of Hokkaido where he soon after returned. The letter continues telling of these two students: "I would like to share with you some of the notes I have received from students who attend the meetings. One borrowed Ten Days in the Light of ‘Akká and a few days later came back with half the book in handwriting. He said he wished to copy it all, and as he was able, to translate it into Japanese. This is the note he sent me: 'Dear Miss Alexander, I beg you will excuse my neglect of not attending our happy meeting. I have been and am now so busy I could not attend, but if there is the least time to spare, I copy the book which I borrowed from you, and at the same time I can only see God through spirit and Truth which comes out of the lines of that religious book. I hope that I may be able to attend the next meeting and see your happy face in His room."'
First Japanese Bahá'í in Japan
"One day a young student visited me who was very shy, but by the look in his eyes I knew his heart was touched. He told me that I was the first person he had ever talked with in English outside of his school, that a few years ago his father failed and he had to be apprenticed. He found the life of an apprentice very hard, but someone told him to try and read the Bible. This he did and found some comfort, but many of the old teachings he could not accept. Now someone is giving him his education. I will copy the note he sent me after his visit as I know it will touch the hearts of my sisters. 'Dear Miss Alexander, I thank you very much for your kindness in offering me your spiritual hospitality and material ones, but my English is too poor to express to you my deep thankfulness. I am now living alone in a lodging and pray every morning and night. Whenever it may be, wherever it may be, when I feel loneliness, I pray in heart and voice. Weak as my power is yet I will do my best for Bahá'ísm. I have found truth in the words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and I believe that it must be the Manifestation of God. . .' This boy learned some of the simpler of the Bahá'í prayers . . . We are all one in the work of the Kingdom and I am only an instrument, while they who love have also a part in the work . . ."
The student Kikutaro Fukuta, or Fukuta San, as we called him, came regularly to the Friday meetings. He was the first one to come and the last to leave. Every week he would borrow a book from my Bahá'í lending library and then return it the following week and take another to read. When I remarked that he never asked questions, he replied that he found the answers to all his questions in the books he read. Out of the Empire of Japan, God chose this poor boy whom He endowed with the great gift of recognizing His Messenger. Soon I saw the light of the Kingdom in his eyes and invited him to come to see me on a Sunday. It was then I suggested that he might write to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá which he did later.
First Naw-Rúz in Japan
On April 6, 1915, I wrote: "It is my wish to tell you of the beautiful Naw-Rúz I spent in this distant land. Perhaps you know that New Year's day, January 1, is the greatest day of the year to the Japanese, the day when they give presents and visit each other, and this prompted them to make my Naw-Rúz a happy one. I told those who come to our class on Friday afternoons of the day, and invited them to come to see me on Sunday, March 21, but I little thought of anything more. The first surprise I had was in the morning when an elderly professor in the School of Science came bringing in his own hands a beautiful potted plant. This was a great surprise for I had only met the gentleman a few times at
"My blind friend comes every Wednesday night now and takes me to their meeting, for I want to use every opportunity to spread the fragrances, and I surely find opportunity among these dear people. They have been exceedingly kind to me. They have invited me to their dinners, etc. and I have always gone for the sake of the Beloved. At first I felt a little strange being the only lady, but now I never think of it, as they are all so kind. At one of these meetings I met a professor from the west of Japan (Hiroshima) where they have a fine Normal School, and he asked me to come there and give the Bahá'í Message, and I expect to do so, God willing. . .
"One of the Japanese Esperanto publications, La Orienta Azio, is going to print something from the Bahá'í teachings in each number now. The first has already appeared. Mr. Eroshenko has completed the Arabic Hidden Words and he has also translated the eleven new principles found in the Bahá'í Revelation. Then also the Honolulu Bahá'í calendar is to be printed each month."
In another letter I wrote: "One day I visited the home on the outskirts of Tokyo where the Orienta Azio is printed. It is an old grey haired man who does this work in his simple Japanese home, surrounded by a beautiful little garden. . . He said he was sorry he had no chair for me to sit in, but I told him I like sitting on the floor in the Japanese way." This man did all the work on the publication himself, which was printed and bound in artistic Japanese style. He continued to publish from the Bahá'í Writings until July 1916. Shortly after, he died and his work ended.
Several other Esperanto publications have gladly received and published translations of the Bahá'í teachings and articles about the Cause. Among these was the monthly organ of the Japanese Esperanto Association.
An earnest student, Kenichi Takao, who was attracted to the Cause, asked me one Sunday to go with him to the Unitarian church. The minister, Rev. Uchigasaki, was a liberal man. When I introduced to him he said, "We first had Shintoism. Then we united with Buddhism and later Christianity came in Japan, and we are ready to listen to every new message." Then he invited me to speak in his pulpit on the Bahá'í Revelation which he would translate into Japanese, and said he would give me part of his time. My heart sank, as I had never spoken in a church and was unprepared, but Mr. Takao said to me, "God will help you." During the service he passed me a note on a card on which he had written topics as a guide for my talk. In the note he [said] he would pray "very strongly" for me. When the minister called on me, with Divine assistance I arose and gave the Message, so that even Mr. Takao was astonished.
Soon after my arrival in Tokyo, Mrs. Dodge introduced me to friends of hers who lived in Yokohama, Mrs. Sanzo, an American, who was married to a Japanese, and her daughter, Mrs. Kathleen Eldridge. The daughter was attracted to the universality of the Bahá'í teachings and came to one of the first Bahá'í meetings, but she did not accept the Manifestation, which left her without a Center to turn to. Mrs. Sanzo told her Japanese tailor, Mr. Sanzo Misawa, a spiritually minded man, of the Bahá'í Faith and gave him an introduction to me. It was the beginning of a long friendship in which Mr. Misawa, who was very generous, did much to assist the Cause.
In April, 1915, Dr. Augur returned to join Mrs. Augur in Honolulu, expecting to come back to Japan with her in the fall.
On May 19, I wrote of the publication of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's picture in an English weekly publication edited by a Britisher, whose wife was deeply attracted to the Cause. "I am sending you a copy of the Far East, which contains the Beloved's picture. This I know will rejoice your hearts as a proof of the penetrative power of the Word of God. . . This is the second time ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's picture has appeared in the Far East. The first time it was in a Japanese paper, but in both instances it was the work of a woman, which is most interesting from the Bahá'í standpoint. . . This is the ninth Tokyo publication which has printed something concerning the Bahá'í Cause during the last six months. Is not this a proof that 'the Ideal King is with those who are in the front ranks of the army.'"
First Celebration of May Twenty-Third
In another letter I wrote: "On Sunday, May 23, I invited the friends to come to my room and inaugurate in Japan the celebration of the Declaration of the Báb. I had printed to give all the friends on this day copies of the picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá which appeared in the Far East. We had a most happy time together, the friends staying until 7 p.m., which I think was a proof that they were happy. Mr. Eroshenko played on the violin and we even tried to sing some of the Bahá'í songs of Mrs. Waite, and I read from Mrs. Grundy's book. Until that day Mr. Eroshenko and I had been working on the Hidden Words (translation into Esperanto). We worked all the winter, but it seemed every time I read them over we found corrections and changes to make . . . but that day I felt a confirmation that the work was finished." Then I tell of the friend of Mr. Eroshenko, a literary writer, Mr. U. Akita, to whom I gave a copy of the translation. The next day he wrote me in Esperanto, of which this is a translation: "Yesterday was very interesting to me. I wish to express my great pleasure to you. That night I spent in reading your translation of the Hidden Words. They give me entirely new strength and every word resounds more profound to me than when I read them in the English translation. I feel proud to know that this translation is finished by the patient work of our dear Eroshenko. Live Eroshenko! Kore via, U. Akita." Mr. Akita did a great deal to help spread the knowledge of the Bahá'í Cause in Japan through articles which he wrote for literary magazines. It seemed on that Holy Day of May 23, the Divine spirit of the New Day came to repose eternally in Japan.
First Letter From Japan to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá
On June 25, I wrote: "Our weekly Friday meeting is just over and I have the first letter to send from this country to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. It makes my heart rejoice. The writer is a young student of eighteen years (Kikutaro Fukuta). I have known, though he was a poor unpretending boy, that he comprehended the Bahá'í Message and the Station of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, as no one else has understood it. When I suggested that he might write to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, he asked if he might write in Japanese and I told him he could, as a letter to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá is the same as a prayer and is answered on the part of God even when the material part may not reach its destination. He told me he was translating the letter he had written into English, as well as he could, that I might know what he had written, and today he had brought it to me. The Japanese is beautifully written on a scroll and rolled in a tube. The English translation has touched my heart and though I will not tell the boy that I am copying it, I feel this simple letter has a message and will touch the heart of others, and thus this boy unconsciously will be helping in the work of the Kingdom which he so much wishes to do. He has read nearly all of my Bahá'í literature and he said to me that it was like a miracle that he could understand everything, when his English is limited, and other writings he cannot understand readily. . . More than a month ago, the man who was helping him in his education, died and he was obliged to look for work. For one month he was searching work, but could find nothing. Then it came to me that I must put this boy back in school. I found he only required five dollars and a half to keep him for a month. Now I will copy his letter just as he has written it. 'O my Master ‘Abdu'l-Bahá! How great mercy and benevolence that Thou hast descended upon us through an apostle Alexander! Though I am a base and poor youth in this world, I am being awakened and bathed in the ocean of Thy mercy, so happy that I pity the king and the prince who are wandering about in the dream of temporal variance. Accept, O Master, my deep thankfulness from the bottom of my heart. I am very sorry when I think of our fellowmen who take no thought about real happiness and do not rely upon the warm hand of Thy love. O my Lord! Water me forever with the forever with the fountain of mercy, and I will never refuse Thy command whatsoever it may be, and excuse me of my sins, and allow me to awake them.'"
Martha Root in Japan
On July 2, I wrote: "Everything seems to hold me right here in Tokyo, and I make no Plans in spite of the hot summer coming, only await His Will. I am daily expecting to hear of a Miss Root, whom I am told should be in Tokyo ere this. She is a Bahá'í sister, I am told, who is going around the world, and it will be such a great joy for me to see her, though to be truthful, never for a moment have I felt loneliness or separation from the Bahá'ís. Their spirits can reach to Japan, and I certainly felt that they do and help me."
On July 21, I wrote: "Today is my birthday and it reminds me of a year ago when I was alone in Switzerland, but today I have a Bahá'í sister with me, Miss Root. She is the first one I have met since I left New York, with the exception of my French roommate who became a Bahá'í on the voyage from Marseilles. On Friday, returning from a few days visit at the seashore, I found Miss Root in my room. I had come in to hold the last Friday meeting for the summer, as most of the students and others who attend the meetings were returning to their homes for the summer. Miss Root had arrived that morning in Yokohama and found a letter waiting for her at Thos. Cook's from me asking her to come to Tokyo. This was our first meeting, but she said she had felt at home in my Bahá'í room. I told her it was ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's room, and it was no wonder she had felt the spirit there. Already many of my student friends have gone, among them Mr. Takao and Mr. Eroshenko, but six young men came that afternoon, and there was much for Miss Root to tell them. Then we arranged for an extra meeting on Sunday morning, when fourteen were present and we had a photograph taken. And again Sunday evening I invited other friends to meet her. On Sunday morning one of my dear Japanese lady friends, who is a reporter on a daily paper, gave Miss Root a write up in her paper. She said she was the first one in Japan to publish the picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. It was not difficult to persuade Miss Root to stay until July 31, or that there were endless opportunities in Tokyo for Bahá'í work, so here she is staying in a room in this house and we are so happy to be together, and are learning from each other many things. I know that she has brought a special inspiration to me, and it is about writing for the Cause. She says it is a lesson to her to how God guides me, and that she has never seen anyone more happy. I am happy that she feels so, and she feels the wonderful openings here. It continues for every few days I meet new people who are hungering for the 'Water of Life.' On Monday night an Indian friend brought a new young man to us, and he came again last night. He said he was hungering for knowledge, that he cared for nothing else in the world. He was delighted with our teachings, and he said he liked our belief so much, he would do anything in his power for us, such as translating. He said this in such a beautiful way, I feel some day he will become a Bahá'í. There is so much that I could tell you, that I don't know where to begin.
"A few Sundays past, I went with my young Bahá'í brother, Mr. Fukuta, to his humble lodging. He had asked me if I would not some day go to see it, and when I proposed that afternoon that I would go with him, he could hardly wait for me to go, he was so happy. He told me it was in the poor quarter of the city, and that his pets were the little street urchins, who called him brother and uncle, and so we went. When I entered his room, I saw in the Japanese place of honor (the alcove in the room called 'tokonoma') ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's picture, then my eye caught written on his sliding door, the word, 'Allah-u-Abhá.' He said to me, 'I have no material hospitality, but only spiritual to offer you.' We had a little reading and prayer together. When he passed me his book of Hidden Words to read, I opened it, and there before my eyes were the words, 'Let not poverty trouble thee, nor rest assured in wealth' . . . When I came to go home, the little urchins followed us to the car and were an interesting sight. Mr. Fukuta has now gone to stay in his father's home for the summer. He told me he wished to go home and tell his friends of the Bahá'í Cause, and I was so happy to have him go. He had all the Bahá'í papers I had copied for him and given to him put carefully together to take with him. When he came to say good-by on Monday night, I suggested to Miss Root that we return with him and give him a surprise.
"Last night Miss Root was asked to speak before the English Speaking Society of the YMCA, and she gave a rousing talk. Many showed interest and this evening we expect some of them. I had already invited some of the Esperantists to meet her. . . Miss Root expects to sail for Honolulu on July 31. I wish I might keep her here to travel around Japan and give the Message with me, but it must be as God wills as He knows best. P.S. July 23. . . This morning I have received a letter written by the brother Mr. Fukuta. He had just reached home traveling by night train. . . He says: 'In the train I had been for a long time obliged to keep standing, as there was no seat for me, but fortunately I could enjoy the sunrise. Mysterious! Nothing can prevent the rising sun, weakening darkness, enlightening everything, even clouds have no power to defy the light of the sun. Have you ever seen the sun rise carefully? How wonderful it is! The boundlessness, the immortal and I! Thank God that I know of immortality!'"
In the same letter I wrote: "Last week, before returning to his home, Mr. Takao gave a little party in his room. He had gone to great trouble to get chairs for my comfort. There were nine present and he asked me to speak of Bahá'í to some of his friends. On his wall was placed a large crayon drawing of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, which one of his friends had copied from a newspaper picture, and also the smaller picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, which I had given out on May 23. I am sure ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was pleased with this little feast."
In a letter of August 25, I wrote that after dear Martha Root left me, I spent three weeks by the seashore, where I could write and read, and had the privilege of receiving many beautiful letters from my Japanese student friends. From his home Fukuta San wrote me: "I am teaching my friends, but when I told them about Bahá'í at first they were surprised and asked, 'What, new religion in this country? Renewed? It is the same. How is the founder and has he done a miracle as Christ did?' I explained and taught as well as I could, but some said nothing and others laughed at it and one friend said frankly that I would be ridiculed if I spoke about Bahá'í more. I pity them whatever they may say. I should awaken them. A few friends listened to my remarks and as they wished to know of this Cause, I have read them a book and the copies. I should awaken them; God will help me. I am very happy even though I am opposed by my friends. Nothing can steal away my spiritual happiness."
In a postscript to the letter of August 25, I wrote: "I have not told the friends how I am missing my sister. Miss Root, since I returned to Tokyo. She left me on July 31, and on August 2, I went to the shore. She left a bright spot behind her and certainly sowed many seeds for the Cause."
Dr. and Mrs. Augur Arrive in Tokyo
On October 12, with the return of Dr. G. J. Augur accompanied by dear Mrs. Augur to Tokyo a blessing came to Japan. In a letter dated October 28, I wrote: "Dr. and Mrs. Augur are both here now, having arrived on the 12th. Dr. Augur felt very strongly the call to return to Japan and dear Mrs. Augur would not put anything in his way and came with him, and now come these words from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá as a confirmation of the step they have taken." The words from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá were in a letter from His secretary dated August 8, 1915, addressed to Dr. Augur in Honolulu. As Dr. and Mrs. Augur had already left for Japan, the letter was forwarded to Tokyo. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's secretary wrote: "Your beautiful petition, redolent with the spirit of humility and devotion and diffusing the Fragrances of love and affection was read this morning to the Beloved of our hearts as He was walking to and fro in the parlor of the Pilgrim Home. His face beamed with a heavenly smile as He heard your name and the signs of satisfaction and pleasure appeared from His Godlike Countenance. As I read your simple and direct words He listened to them attentively thus grasping your sincerity and faithfulness in this glorious Cause and your zeal and enthusiasm to teach those who are yet uninformed with these heavenly principles. Then breaking His silence He said: 'Write to Dr. Augur to return to Japan as soon as the first opportunity offers itself to him. Great blessings will descend upon the soul who teaches the Cause in that country. Its people are endowed with great capability. On the other hand . . . are not so receptive. The seed of this quality must be first planted in the ground of their hearts, but the Japanese are already endowed with this quality. Should five or six of them be thoroughly grounded in the teachings of this Cause and attracted with its fire, great results will be forthcoming.'"
My letter continued: "So now here in Tokyo we are four strong. The Word and Power of God is truly increasing here, though it may be in a very quiet way. 'Nothing can prevent the rising Sun. Weakening darkness, enlightening everything. Even clouds have no power to defy the light of the sun.' These words of Fukata San which he wrote to me after seeing the rising sun on his homeward way last summer, seem to ring in my ears with a powerful truth. Oh, these are wonderful, wonderful days though the world knows it not. His Kingdom is coming with power and great glory! Dr. Augur has told me that before their coming, in Honolulu a dear friend of theirs was trying to persuade him that it was a mistake for him to think of returning to Japan at this time. He took up the Hidden Words and opened them in order to get light, and these were the words which came before his eyes: O MY SERVANT! Free thyself from the worldly bond, and escape from the prison of self. Appreciate the value of time for thou shalt never see it again, nor shalt thou find a like opportunity. These words left no doubt in Dr. Augur's mind about coming. He and Mrs. Augur are living in a Japanese Inn among the people."
Mrs. Augur furnished her little room in the Inn with some furniture she had brought from Honolulu, but Dr.
The letter of October 28 continued: "Today we were nine in the meeting. Two were new. Nearly every week some new ones come in to hear the Message. It surely is the greatest privilege in the world to live and work among these people. Last week Fukuta San with great joy brought a schoolmate of his to the meeting, and today the schoolmate brought two others, and so the Message is continually being spread. The other day I received a letter which touched me deeply. It was from a young boy who came to the meetings. In the summer he returned to his home in the country and was not able to come back again to school. He had been working his way as a servant boy. For several weeks he was absent, and then he came and told me that his master would not permit him to come, as he was a Buddhist. He said to me, 'I am like ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, I am a prisoner.' At first he wrote very bravely about not being able to return to Tokyo, then an appealing letter came begging me to take him as my servant and relieve his anguish. I replied saying he must put his trust in God. Then he wrote again with renewed bravery that before he had become 'pessimistic through disappointment' but now he would trust in God. This is his last letter: 'Accept my best thanks for your letter. I have read the prayer that you sent me and I have prayed to God. I am struck by [the notion that] God is greater than anything in the world and I fear only God in this world. I wish to know our God through ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and I long to touch the love of God by the love of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Please guide me to the Heavenly Kingdom. I will be so glad always to help. I hope to see you again.' I am expecting now to take a trip to Kyoto, where the coronation of the Emperor takes place this month, and also go farther on to Hiroshima, where I have been asked to give the Bahá'í Message by some Esperantists. I have intended to do this since last spring, but there was never a time when I felt I could leave Tokyo . . . I find it hard, though, to leave Tokyo. My life is so full and happy here."
I wrote: "Hiroshima, Dec. 15, 1915. Dear friends, perhaps some of you remember that last spring at an Esperanto meeting in Tokyo I met a professor from the western part of Japan who invited me to come to his city and give the Bahá'í Message in the Normal School where he is a teacher. This Normal School stands second in Japan and is a very interesting institution. At the time I felt it was a direct call and said I would surely come, God willing. Now through the power and confirmations of the Center of the Covenant, it has all been realized. When the right time came all the doors opened. It is indeed wonderful and a privilege that cannot be compared to anything else to come and give the Message in a place where it has never been heard before. As the Bahá'í friends know, I have never been a speaker, and have only once before spoken in public on the Bahá'í Revelation . . . On December 9, I spoke in the Normal School to about sixty students and teachers. It is really very wonderful that I was asked to speak there on a religion, for religion is forbidden in all the public schools of Japan . . . I had tried to think before the lecture what I would say, but when I stood before the eager faces of the students, it was by inspiration I spoke. After the hour was over, my Esperanto friend, Mr. Takahashi, came up to me and said, 'You said you were not a lecturer, but you spoke eloquently like a trained lecturer.' I passed around among the students the Bahá'í edition of the Palo Alto paper (when ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was there) and also distributed a package of booklets sent me by Roy Wilhelm. I made a special point of Esperanto and read what ‘Abdu'l-Bahá has said in regard to the language. I am staying here in a Methodist Mission School, but I know that it is by the Will of God that I am here, for I did not seek it for myself. There are no foreigners here, with the exception of two teachers in the Normal School, except the missionaries, and no place for a foreigner to stay, so I went alone to a Japanese Inn. It was rather difficult and unpleasant for me being alone, but I kept saying to myself the words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá to me, 'the Ideal King is with those who are in the front Tanks of the battlefield,' and most truly are these words true. The next morning Mr. Takahashi came and took me out, and I told him I should like to visit a kindergarten which has become famous through the book The Lady of the Decoration by Frances Little. The moment I met the kindergartner, I felt I must give her the Message. We were asked to stay to lunch, and then, when they found where I was staying alone, they asked me to come and occupy their guest chamber. I felt a difference between the kindergartner and the others, I mean in a broad sense, and it seems she is not a missionary, only paid to teach the training school. She is from Teacher's College, New York. She has become very much interested in Esperanto and has asked me to talk to her training girls about it. The Esperantists invited her with me the other evening to a dinner they had, and we had a lovely time. One of the Japanese papers here has written a very good summary of my talk in the Normal School. It made me very happy to have one of the students (Mr. Maedo) come to see me and tell me that all the students had said I had been an inspiration to them. Could I ask anything more in the world!"
Return to Tokyo
On my return to Tokyo I wrote: "31 Nichome, Fujimicho, Kudan Ue, Tokyo, Japan, January 21, 1916. I am back in Tokyo again, though why I am here I cannot say, only that it must be God's will. I had intended staying in Kyoto until some Bahá'í work was accomplished. I was looking for the right place to stay, but found nothing when suddenly a great inspiration came to me to return to Tokyo, and the overwhelming feeling of joy which came to me is beyond anything I have felt in my life before. It has seemed to me that something very wonderful must be happening in the Bahá'í world. I feel certain it is time when this Message is spreading with rapidity through the world. Spiritually we are all united and I feel I could not feel such great inspiration if it did not come from all the hearts. My return has been such a happy one. The night I arrived four of my best friends were at the station to greet me, blind Mr. Eroshenko Fukuta San, Mr. Takao and my lady friend of the newspaper. I had only written Fukuta San when I was coming, and so it was a great surprise . . . I realize the Cause of God has taken root in Japan when I can return and attend a meeting conducted by others in a
On February 15, 1916, I wrote: "Dr. and Mrs. Augur have taken a little Japanese house near the sea coast at a place called Zushi. It is about an hour and a half on the train from here. We do not know why they have gone, but God's ways are not our ways and as Dr. Augur said, not to follow guidance would be committing spiritual suicide and he would prefer to commit material suicide, so there must be a divine reason for their going. They plan to come in on Friday afternoons to attend the meetings. Last Friday there were fifteen who came, the largest number I have had here at a Bahá'í meeting, but I care nothing for numbers . . . I have been asked sometimes how many converts I have made since I have been Japan, and I have always answered that I was not making converts, but just sowing seeds, one here, who has come to truly know ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, was not taught of me, but of God."
On March 10, I wrote: "Our weekly Friday Bahá'í meeting has just closed. Every week new souls come and hear the Message. One of those who came today said he had heard of the Bahá'í once before, through a journalist lady who spoke in the YMCA. I told him it was our Martha Root, and then read from a letter received this week from her, so we never know when the seed will spring up. There is a rich vineyard to work in here in Japan and many, many workers might be laboring in it. I do not seek the people out but they continually come to me. Four university students who cannot come on Friday afternoon, are coming on their only free afternoon, that is Saturday. As I am to be in Yokohama at an Esperanto meeting this Saturday, they came instead last night. Such earnest, nice young men and so eager to learn the Truth. Mr. Remey has sent us some of his books to place in libraries. Fukuta San placed two in a library near where he lives. The librarian became much interested and thanked Fukuta San warmly, but he suggested placing them in a larger library, where they would find more English readers, which was done. Last night Mr. Eroshenko told me that a Japanese had come to him with one of these books which he had found in the library and was deeply interested. A magazine here called, New Tide has reproduced the picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá which appeared in the December number of Everywoman with an article on Bahá'í, containing a translation into Japanese of the twelve Bahá'í principles. Each principle is first given in Esperanto, and then in Japanese. The author is a well known literary writer (Mr. U. Akita) and this is the third article he has written on the Bahá'í Cause. In each article he has combined Esperanto with Japanese. He first became interested in Esperanto through meeting Mr. Eroshenko. He said when he found Mr. Eroshenko who was blind doing three different things, he resolved that he would study Esperanto for three hours every day, and very soon after, Mr. Eroshenko's astonishment, he began to write in Esperanto." Then I tell of the Esperanto public meeting in Yokohama, which a banker of the city, who was an ardent Esperantist, arranged for and paid all the expenses. It was advertised with street placards. I wrote: "This afternoon I go to Yokohama to speak in an Esperanto meeting which is a public meeting for propagating Esperanto. With Mr. Eroshenko's help, I have translated some of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's words concerning Esperanto which I am going to read. Many Esperantists are going from Tokyo and we all go together. Of course I shall be the only lady, and perhaps foreigner, but I go for His sake. Mr. Eroshenko is going to speak on Universal Love from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's words in the Paris Talks. All the talks will be translated into Japanese."
Later that year another Esperanto propaganda meeting was held in Tokyo to which I was invited to speak on the Universal Principles as taught by Bahá'u'lláh. In this way they gave me the opportunity to explain the Bahá'í Revelation before a large audience. My talk was principally made from translations of the words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and Bahá'u'lláh into Esperanto, which one of the Esperantists translated into Japanese for the benefit of those who did not know Esperanto. I wrote, "It has been through the Esperantists that the great work of sowing Bahá'í seeds has been given me here in Japan."
Contribution to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár
In a letter of April 29, I wrote: "The mail has brought me so many lovely letters that my heart is rejoicing. Mr. Remey's letter tells of the work for the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, and though far separated from you here in Japan, I have felt all these things. Is not this a proof of the strength of the Bahá'í unity and what wonderful things can be accomplished through perfect unity. A few weeks ago it came to me very strongly that Japan should have a share in the building of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár. I told my thought to the students and said that though I knew not one of them had a cent more than they needed in getting their education, yet through God all things were possible, and if in our hearts we desired to help the way would open for us. Shortly after this Fukuta San came to me and said that he liked the idea of giving to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár and that he had one dollar which he had saved from text books which he wished to give to the fund. This touched me deeply, for as you know, Fukuta San has nothing of his own, but receives a small monthly allowance for his schooling. The second to offer a contribution was Mr. Eroshenko. Last spring he gave a talk on Russian music with musical illustrations. He had hoped to make some money from this to help himself, but after the expenses were paid, there was neither profit or loss. Last week he went to another city and gave the same lecture in Japanese, hoping to make a financial success this time, but he returned with but 50 cents profit, and he told me that he wished to give this to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár fund. So
The letter continues: "On March 21, we celebrated the second Naw-Rúz feast in Japan. On that day I had printed the New Year greeting from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in both Esperanto and English which was sent out. It is interesting to know that day is a national holiday in Japan (from the Buddhist religion). I remarked at the gathering that there were four nationalities represented in the room; a Russian, Indian, American and Japanese. One of those present replied, 'No, there are five nationalities.' This puzzled me, then he explained that he meant that ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was present. I thought it was a beautiful thought. Nineteen friends visited me that afternoon and evening, the largest number I have had before in one day. . . . Last week I was invited to speak at the YMCA to the English Speaking Society, the same at which Martha Root spoke last July. Afterwards many young men gathered around to ask questions. They are so ready and eager to learn something new in religion."
Meeting Daiun Inouye
In the spring of 1916 I received a letter from Miss Dorothy Hodgson, a dear English young woman who was with ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris, and with whom I had corresponded. She wrote she was coming to Japan with some French friends and would land in Kobe. My dear friend, Mme Gordon told me of a Buddhist festival which was to be held near Kobe and urged me to meet these friends and take them to the festival. It was the Hand of God which guided, for a joyous inspiration came to me to go although I was not aware of the reason for it. At the festival the only person who could speak English was a young Buddhist priest, Daiun Inouye. After the festival was over he accompanied us to Mt. Rokko. I gave him the only Bahá'í publication in Japanese which we had at that time, the pamphlet which Dr. Augur wrote. As he read it his face lighted up with delight, and he said "This is what I believe!"
After my return to Tokyo, I corresponded with Mr. Inouye. He began to translate from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's talks regarding peace, which were published in a Buddhist paper Chugai Nippo and later printed in pamphlet form. He wrote me that he would like to come out boldly for the Bahá'í Cause. He wrote: "Though it would be glorious for my religious life as a child of truth, yet I fear for my family's distress." In Tablets which were received later from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, He mentioned this pure soul.
On the way to Tokyo I stopped with the travelers in Kyoto. There on May 23, Tenko Nishida, the founder of a society to serve mankind, entertained us at a simple Japanese feast. When I told him the significance of the day, he asked me to bring ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's picture, which he placed in the Japanese place of honor in the room, and at the table a seat was left vacant. It was a spiritual feast and the Master was surely present with us.
The friends from . . . came to stay in Tokyo. They did not, however, strengthen the Cause of God. One day I was guided to the words which ‘Abdu'l-Bahá sent through Miss Hodgson, when in Paris, addressed to the Honolulu friends, which were in part: "If ever anyone desires secretly to shake their faith in the Covenant and Testament, they must remain firm and know of a certainly that that person has evil intentions. They must listen to the words of whomsoever calls the people to the Covenant, and they must know that if anyone desires to shake their faith, that he is a stranger to Bahá'u'lláh, because such a person thinks of sowing seeds of division in the Cause of God, aiming to scatter the Bahá'í unity so that meanwhile he may propagate his own selfish desires." And in a Tablet which I received from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in February, 1917, He wrote: "Convey on my behalf the utmost longing and greeting to the friends residing in Tokyo as well as the recently arrived travelers and say to them: All the individuals of humanity are farmers. Every soul sows a certain kind of seed, but at the season of the harvest there will be gathered no result except the seeds which are sown by the believers of God. That alone will obtain heavenly blessings. Reflect that His holiness Christ and His Holiness Muhammad scattered such holy seeds the fruits of which are being gathered until now, but all the other farmers were finally doomed to regret and disappointment."
Through the meeting in the Esperanto rooms in Geneva in September, 1914, of Miss Anna Sharapov, a friend of Vasily Eroshenko, a new world of joyous service came into my life. It was Mr. Eroshenko who assisted me to translate the Bahá'í teaching into Esperanto. It was he who helped me to learn English and Esperanto Braille, bringing me in close touch with the blind of Japan. It was through his effort that I had the joy of sharing the Bahá'í Message with Tokujiro Torii and through him with the blind of Japan. It was he who introduced me to the writer, U. Akita, who was sympathetic to the Cause, and wrote magazine articles through which the first Japanese young woman accepted the Bahá'í Message.
Mr. Eroshenko was also the door by which a new world was opened to the Japanese blind through the Esperanto language. He said that if Esperanto had done nothing else in the world, it had already united the blind. They had an International Association which published a year book giving the addresses of blind Esperantists throughout the world, thus enabling them to correspond and exchange ideas with the blind in other countries.
In the summer of 1916, Mr. Eroshenko left Tokyo to go to Siam. I had read him the book Some Answered Questions and he was very enthusiastic about it and asked to take the book with him on his travels. As he sailed from Japan many prayers were said for this brave young man. Mr. W. H. Randall of Boston wrote me: "At the next meeting of the friends here and at Green Acre we will have special prayers for Mr. Eroshenko, our blind brother on his way to Siam. You say he goes alone,
From Bangkok, Siam, I received a letter from Mr. Eroshenko who had passed through some trying experiences on his way, but was assisted by the Unseen Hand. He wrote: "Among the Russians are many Hebrews. I often visit one of these families. Two girls are interested in religion. I told them of the Bahá'í. They listened with great interest excitedly and wholly unexpectedly asked me, "Tell me is Christ on this earth?" I replied, 'Bahá'ís say that he is.' 'But you personally, do you believe?' I felt that she wished Christ might be here, but I replied, 'I study the question.' Now she is reading Some Answered Questions."
Through Mr. Eroshenko this girl wrote to me: "I am a Jewish by creed, and have tried my utmost to get into a more deep investigation of the creeds of the world but how I regret that I cannot succeed as there are so many. I have studied with careful scrutiny the Buddhist religion, but was not satisfied until Mr. Eroshenko lent me a book called Some Answered Questions, which has made an impression by its simple and true creed. I shall not go farther, but would ask you to forward me any periodicals and an edition of Some Answered Questions, and I shall try to help you in teaching in this part of the sphere . . . I am only 17 years and one month . . . I regret to be unable to help Mr. Eroshenko in his efforts, for I do not hold any power. But I admire his noble effort to educate the blind here . . . I am sure his efforts would be greatly cherished by the One Above as his would be success . . ."
I wrote this dear young sister and sent her a prayer from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. In reply I received a beautiful letter from her. She had experienced great help through the prayer, but her mother opposed the Cause and destroyed all her Bahá'í literature.
In Rangoon, Burma, some of the dear Bahá'ís welcomed Mr. Eroshenko. There he told students in the school for the blind of the Bahá'í teachings, and shared with them the book Some Answered Questions which they greatly appreciated. They were delighted with the teachings, especially because the Bahá'í Faith did not condemn the Buddhist religion, which was the faith of their forefathers, and into which they were born.
Mr. Eroshenko had many significant dreams in which ‘Abdu'l-Bahá appeared to instruct him. Although he had love for the Bahá'í teachings, he did not experience the great joy which comes through acknowledging and turning to the Center of the Manifest Light. In later years he joined the Communists and lost the inspiration he received through the Bahá'í teachings
Mr. Ujaku Akita, the kind friend of Mr. Eroshenko, came in July to ask me to write an article on the Bahá'í teachings in regard to the woman question, for a Japanese woman's magazine which had over 15,000 subscribers, and was read by the Empress. With great joy I wrote, addressing the article "To my dear sisters of Japan." Mr. Akita translated it into Japanese, the first part, though, he left in the English, as he said it was so beautiful. When it was published, I received many kind letters from Japanese women, expressing their appreciation and heartfelt thanks. At that time in Japan, most of the work I had been able to do was among the young women students. As I wrote to the Children of the Kingdom magazine, almost all were young people, for the older people had not awakened from the winter sleep. The young, though, were wide awake.
Because Mr. Akita had written many magazine articles about the Cause, one of the Japanese papers published a cartoon of him in which the word "Bahá" was coming out of his mouth. The Cause of God was thus given wide publicity in Japan.
I went to Matsushima that summer, remaining there for nineteen days. A happy incident of the visit was the following: One morning the lady who occupied the room next to mine in the hotel was ill. Suddenly the guidance came to me to take my photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and show it to her. When I entered her room with the photograph, to my great surprise she said, "It is ‘Abdu'l-Bahá." Then she told me that her father and also her husband were Persian. Her husband, she said, was a Muhammadan, and as her mother was French, she had attended a convent, and in religion she and her husband could not agree. She had come from her home in Shanghai for a visit to Japan. We had a happy visit and I had the privilege of explaining to her that through the Bahá'í Revelation all could unite. Soon after I left her she wrote her husband telling him what had happened.
While in Matsushima I received a letter from a young man who lived in another city, enquiring about the Bahá'í Cause. He had read something about it in a newspaper and found my address. I wrote and sent him a few booklets. He replied: "I offer you a thousand thanks for the letter and booklets you sent me. I read them immediately and was very much pleased. I think as though I am standing before the gate of the Kingdom of Truth with the key in my hand . . ."
In the far west of Japan, an Englishman, who was a teacher, heard of the Bahá'í Cause through reading the weekly publication Far East, which had published several articles about the Bahá'í Faith. He wrote to me and asked some questions which I was happy to answer. In his home on Sunday mornings he held a service. One day in July, 1916, a letter came to me from the first Japanese to whom I had earnestly talked of the Bahá'í Cause when I was a young Bahá'í in Green Acre, Maine, in the summer of 1901. He was then studying at a Theological school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Afterwards I corresponded with him for a while, until it became clear his mind was closed to the Light of the New Day. He wrote: "I wonder if you ever remember a little Japanese whom you met at Green Acre, Maine, about a dozen years ago. After the service this morning, Mr. . . . my colleague, mentioned how interesting were the teachings of Bahá and this at once reminded me of you, so I told him I used to hear the teaching of that great prophet through a lady in America, whose name is Miss Agnes Alexander. Then he produced your letter to my surprise and my delight. I am very glad to hear you are now in Japan . . ." A few years later we met in Tokyo. The Call of the Divine Message had come to his attention for the second time, through the bounty of God, but he did not awaken to the Voice.
In Tokyo I had met Tokujiro Torii, who was a student at the Government School for the Blind. There he came to know Mr. Eroshenko and was the first of the
Mr. Torii had asked me if I would come to Ejiri the last week in August, as Mr. Nakamura, a blind teacher who had spent two years in a school in England, was going to be there then and would interpret for us. On August 22, while in Matsushima, I wrote: "In a few days I will be with some blind friends who have asked me to visit them. The friend of Mr. Eroshenko's (Mr. Torii) writes me that he is sorry he is only a poor young man and cannot give me the right reception, but, he says, 'I will receive the eternal riches from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and await you with spiritual joy.' At his request I have written about the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, which will be printed in Braille in the Journal for the Blind."
In order to go to Ejiri, I returned to Tokyo. It was exceedingly hot and I became ill. It seemed as though I could not be of help to anyone and even dear Mrs. Augur said she thought ‘Abdu'l-Bahá would not want me to go. Perhaps it was God's purpose to empty me of everything that He might use me. When the morning came to go, putting some Bahá'í literature in my suitcase, I went to the train. After a ride of five hours, Mr. and Mrs. Torii and Mr. Nakamura met me at Ejiri and guided me to a Japanese Inn. As Ejiri was a town where no foreigners lived, it was the only place for me to stay. We had a visit and then they left me. Throughout that night there was geisha music and noise in the Inn and I spent a sleepless night. In the morning when the dear friends came I read them from the book Ten Days in the Light of ‘Akká and other Bahá'í writings. Mr. Nakamura was then teaching in a Christian school for the blind in Tokyo, and was the editor of the only religious journal for the blind in Japan. He asked me if I would write about the Bahá'í Revelation for the blind women of Japan. He said I might be unlimited in the length of my article as nothing had yet been done for the blind women, whom he said had double darkness, that is, of spirit and body. He was devoting his time to try and better the condition of the blind in his land.
When I left Ejiri after a few days spent in reading and explaining the Bahá'í teachings, Mr. Torii told me that he wished to write to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, but he waited for the inspiration to come. On September 7, in the quiet hours of the night the inspiration came. What joy was mine when I received from him a beautiful letter addressed to the Beloved Master, written in Esperanto Braille! He wrote me that after I left, he walked with his Japanese wife in the fields and a great light and happiness came to him. His letter, which was the second letter to be sent from Japan to the Master from a Japanese follows:
Ejiri, Shizuoka, Japan
In an article published in the Bahá'í World Vol. IV, Mr. Torii wrote of his spiritual experience thus: "It was a day in August, 1916, that I found the Eternal Light which I had sought and sought with a longing heart for a long time . . . At that time I was living in a town by the seashore . . . There came a messenger of the Kingdom of Abhá and lifted up the veil of my soul. . . . Since that bright morning of my spirit, everything in the world has changed for me."
For the sake of God, I went to Ejiri and He used me for His purpose. Of all the trips I have taken in Japan that one brought the greatest blessing and joy which extended and increased throughout the years spent in that country. It was the door which opened to the blind of Japan Cause of God, bringing them Eternal Life.
Tokujiro Torii was twenty-three years old, and like Mr. Eroshenko, lost his sight when he was three years old from fever. His soul was so ripe that it only needed a touch to set it aflame. In a letter of September 12, 1916 I wrote: "Mr. Torii is ready to do anything he can for the Cause and is already translating from
In Tokyo I wrote for Mr. Nakamura the article, in the form of a letter, to the blind women, telling them of the hope and joy they would find in the Bahá'í Message. Mr. Nakamura translated it into Japanese Braille, and published and sent it out from his school. He said that usually the letters from the blind young women were very dull, but after they had read of the Bahá'í Message they became full of life. Several young women wrote of the light and consolation they received from the Bahá'í teachings. Mr. Nakamura kindly translated their letters to me. One of the young women especially found great inspiration and for a time we corresponded. This Braille booklet was not only the first of the Bahá'í teachings to be circulated among the blind in Japan but also the first pamphlet to be published in the Japanese language.
I wrote, "So the spiritual Dawn is surely drawing near for those people."
President Naruse and the Japan Women's College
One day in September, 1916, I went to the Japan Women's College and presented an introduction which had been given me to President Jinzo Naruse. He had met ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in London in 1912. When I mentioned the Bahá'í Cause to him, he invited me to come the following Saturday afternoon and speak in the chapel to all the students who would assemble. The school was nondenominational. President Naruse showed me a room which he had reserved for the study of religions of the world. The girls were free to study there any of the world religions. President Naruse was pleased to accept from me some Bahá'í books and a photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá to be placed in the room. The following Saturday, September 23, I spoke in the chapel on the Bahá'í teachings, especially concerning women, which a lady teacher who had been educated in the United States, translated into Japanese. President Naruse had the book, The Reconciliation of Race and Religions by Prof. T.K. Cheyne of Oxford. As I had not seen it, he kindly let me take it to read. I found in reading it many marks which expressed the depth of his spiritual understanding. He died not long afterwards, but his memory is cherished in the school to which he gave his life.
A Bahá'í Home in Tokyo
On October 1, I moved into a Japanese house which I had been guided to find, not far from where I lived. At that same time the help which Fukuta San had been receiving for his education was withdrawn, and it seemed God's providence that he should have a room in the house, where he could assist in the Bahá'í work and continue in his school. As it was a Japanese house, it required little furniture, and I engaged a woman to keep house, which was necessary in Japan. As Mrs. Augur is leaving for Honolulu early in October, Dr. and Mrs. Augur moved from Zushi, where they had been living, to Tokyo. Dr. Augur took a room in the Inn where they had lived before going to Zushi, and Mrs. Augur came and spent the nights with me until she sailed for Honolulu.
At the first meeting in the Bahá'í home on Friday, October 6, 1916, nine were present, among whom were three of the students from Waseda University who had faithfully come on Saturday afternoons during the spring months to study the Bahá'í teachings, also the writer, Mr. Akita.
During October, Mr. Kenzo Torikai, a Japanese Bahá'í from Seattle came on a visit to his native land after an absence of twelve years. He brought a fragrance with him and we were happy to welcome him in Tokyo, and had a photograph taken of some of the friends for him. (See Star of the West Vol. VIII, page 35). In the photograph, Mr. Fukuta and I hold the Greatest Name, beneath which is Dr. Augur in Japanese costume. The four students from Waseda University, Mr. Akita and Yoshio Tanaka made the nine who were present that day. Mr. Torikai remained in Japan until March 1, 1917. Most of his time was spent in the western province where his relatives lived. Although religious teaching was forbidden in the government schools of Japan, he said he was able to speak in many of the schools in his home province, as he did not call it religion, but teachings, and in this way he gave the Bahá'í principles. He was the first Japanese Bahá'í to return to Japan from America and give the Bahá'í Message. While visiting his home, he wrote an article giving Bahá'í teachings, entitled New Civilization which we had published in pamphlet form after his return to Tokyo.
On November 10, I wrote: "The last two meetings have been conducted in Japanese by Fukuta San. It shows growth. Tomorrow they will meet here to consult together about translation." The young men students who attended the Bahá'í meetings and Mr. Akita, formed a group to work together to translate the Bahá'í teachings into Japanese, and met together one afternoon a week for the purpose. I left it to them to be guided in selecting the Bahá'í literature to be translated and did not attend any of their meetings. One day I asked Fukuta San if they prayed before beginning their work, and he replied that they did which made me happy.
In the fall of 1916, Fukuta San went to his home in Toyohashi for a few days, and on his return to Tokyo stopped at Ejiri and met his Bahá'í brother Tokujiro Torii. The love and unity which was ignited between these spiritual brothers continued through the years, for they both were awakened by the love of their Lord, and were aware of His Station.
Through the bounty of God, I made two visits that fall to Ejiri, where I spent a few days sharing the Words of Life with the blind brother. On November 24, I wrote from Tokyo: "This morning my heart is filled with thankfulness to God for His loving kindness and mercy to me. My heart is filled with peace and contentment in this home which He has given me, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's home! A few days ago I spent two days with the dear blind brother and his wife in Ejiri. From being with him and his wife, my heart was filled with great love and peace and it is still with me. In two more days we will celebrate in this house ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Day. It will also be my sixteenth birthday in the Kingdom. So many
On November 26, we celebrated for the third time the Day of the Center of the Covenant in Tokyo. It was a very happy occasion. Twelve of the friends came and as we sat on the matted floor around a low table, each one in turn said a few words.
Mr. Torii worked continually transposing the Bahá'í literature into Braille. There was no one in Ejiri to read English to him, and only through the help of his devoted wife, who spelled the English words for him, was he able to accomplish his work. From the English transcriptions he made selections for a Braille book for the blind of Japan. Again with the help of his wife in the use of the dictionary, he translated the words into Japanese. It was a work of pure love through which the Bahá'í Message was widely spread among the blind of Japan.
Through a Bahá'í lady in England, Mr. Torii wrote a beautiful letter to a young English soldier who had lost his sight at the front in the great war. (See Star of the West Vol. III, page 34). He wrote in part: "I do not know how to admire that you had been fighting so bravely that you lost your sight, but I cannot be sorry for your distress, for I knew that the physical blindness is nothing for you, and that soon you will be able to have the Inner Sight more clearly than ever, so surely God will help you if you beseech Him. So, dear friend, be cheerful, praise God and keep your hope and spiritual light firmly. . . . I believe that it is the Heavenly Command for us, the blind of this century, to work for bringing happiness, peace, love, joy and hope to this world of humanity, because for this great work no one need any sight of the body, and there should not be a handicap between the blind and the sighted. Knowing this, I think we, the blind must unite universally, and it is much easier for the blind to unite universally than the seeing, because of their same fate, and the only instrument for this purpose is the Esperanto language, so I hope that you will learn this language and have great joy by corresponding with many friends in the whole world. Forget your blindness and turn your face to the bright side! This is the only way with which you can change darkness into light. Really physical blindness is nothing, nothing for us!" In the letter Mr. Torii quoted from the Words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, whom he referred to as, "our teacher and guide today," and Bahá'u'lláh, as "the fountain of Light and Hope and Love."
Mr. Torii wrote that since he had found the Light, "every prejudice in my heart is forgotten. Truly, there is no country, no nation, no race in my heart, everything is equal in the presence of the Almighty, indeed, 'the heart is the real country.'"
The first spring in Tokyo, in 1915, I met a charming young woman, Miss Ichi Kamichika, who had graduated from Miss Tsuda's Japanese English School and was writing for a newspaper. It was she who had ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's picture first published in a Japanese newspaper in Japan. When Martha Root visited me that summer, she wrote an article about her for the newspaper. For a Japanese woman at that time, she was advanced in her independence and came to some of the Bahá'í meetings, although the only Japanese lady. She was among those in the first photograph taken with Martha Root in my room. In the fall of 1916, a tragedy came in her life, and she was confined in a prison in Yokohama waiting for a trial. I wrote to her then and sent her the booklet From the Greatest Prisoner to His Prison Friends by Zoraya Chamberlain. When I spoke of going to see her, a friend said I would not be allowed to visit with her except for a few minutes through a small opening, which was the custom in such cases. I went, nevertheless, to the prison and gave the officer in charge my card, and asked if I might see Miss Kamichika. To my surprise he replied, "I know you, I have read your letters to Miss Kamichika and every word of the booklet From the Greatest Prisoner to His Prison Friends which you sent to her. You may see her at any time." She was permitted to come to an office room where I visited with her in the presence of an officer. I had been writing an article about the Bahá'í teachings for the women of Japan, and asked if she could translate it into Japanese in the prison. The permission was granted and later the manuscript was published in pamphlet form entitled A Message of Love to the Women of Japan, which was distributed among Japanese women. This was the second publication of the Bahá'í teachings in Japan.
Before visiting Miss Kamichika in the prison, I had received several letters from her written from the prison. In one of them on November twenty-fourth, she wrote: "Much obliged I am for your kind letter as well as for your love which does not change even for my horrible condition. Thanks to sympathy of all the friends, I am passing my prison days well and comfortably, please do not worry yourself imagining I am miserable and distressed. . . I am so grateful for your friendship shown these days and for what I owe you I am intending to do my best even in here." In another letter of December sixth, she wrote: ". . . today I had a happy chance to talk to the head officer of this prison and asked for the permission to do your translation and was allowed. I feel so happy, because you helped me in so many ways but I did nothing to please you, but now I can do it even though that is a small work and you really mean, not for yourself, but for me. Freedom and comforts of life seem so precious when one thinks of them in a prison. But I also know very well that this place was the best place for me. Prison will make me very meditative and thoughtful and will work a great deal for my growth."
The year 1917 opened full of joyful Bahá'í activities. Dr. Augur wrote, "The work is making great progress here in Japan. . . . The meetings are sometimes carried on by the Japanese young men in their own language."
During the New Year holidays, Mr. and Mrs. Torii came to Tokyo for a visit. I wrote, "I have just had a most happy visit from the blind brother and his wife. It was a great joy for me to have him with Fukuta San in this home." In another letter I wrote, "One Friday we had three blind young men present in our meeting. Truly the blind of Japan are coming to this Light. God certainly heard and answered the prayer of our dear blind brother, Mr. Torii." With their finger tips, at the
On January 18, I wrote: "Our blind Bahá'í brother, Mr. Torii, sent the Kasitaj Vortoj to the blind Esperantists of the world. He now has received a letter from a blind Danish Esperantist young lady who writes that she was greatly interested in the Hidden Words in Esperanto and wishes more copies. Mr. Torii writes me in Esperanto which I will translate, 'The Bahá'í Movement is becoming spread more and more, not only among the blind Japanese, but among the Europeans of the same fate.' Mr. Torii asks me to write to this Danish young lady and give her the address of some Bahá'í who is near to her. I will have to reply that I know of no Bahá'ís in that part of the world, but I hope she will be the first one in her country . . . Mr. Torii said he felt the blind people can understand the spirit better than the sighted. When more Bahá'í literature is translated into Esperanto, then it can be printed in Braille for the blind, and in this way the blind people all over the world can be reached with the Message. . . . One reason Mr. Torii says the blind can unite easier than the sighted is because they all have the same writing, that is Braille . . . . For the New Year we have published here the first book of the Bahá'í Teachings in Japanese. A Bahá'í brother in the United States made this possible by giving us a most generous contribution for work here. This book has the portrait of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá on the cover, also in Esperanto the words of Bahá'u'lláh. 'O people of the world, ye are all the fruits of one Tree and the leases of one Branch.' On the first page in English are printed the words of Bahá'u'lláh. 'Let not a man glory in this that he loves his country, let him rather glory in this that he loves his kind.' This book is entirely the work of the young men who united together to accomplish it. It contains only the words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in translation."
A dear friend in Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Rufus W. Powell, whose wife gave me my first Esperanto study book, kept me informed during those days, on all matters concerning Esperanto and the Bahá'í work.
Tablets From ‘Abdu'l-Bahá Reach Japan
On February 9, I wrote of the joyful news which had come to us in Japan: "On the evening of the seventh great joy came to this home and I hasten to tell you of it that you may all rejoice with us. A wonderful spirit had uplifted me all that day and I felt that when I returned home in the evening, I would find a Message from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. I looked for the mail the first thing on entering the home, and there it was enclosed in a letter from our brother, Mr. Joseph Hannen of Washington D.C. There was a letter for Fukuta San from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's secretary and one for me, each embodying in them Tablets from our Beloved. I cannot tell you of the wonderful peace and joy that has overflowed in my heart ever since. This is the first time since receiving word from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá to come to Japan, that any message from Him has reached here, and Fukuta San is blessed by being the first Japanese in his own land to receive words, 'from that Pen whose greatness, glory and splendour will shine down the ages long after we have passed away from this earth and the traces of our service in His mighty Cause have appeared in dazzling brightness.' These wonderful words were written by a sister (May Maxwell) many years ago." The Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá to Mr. Kikutaro Fukuta follows:
O thou who are guided by the Light of Guidance! Thy first and second letter was received. Praise be to God that the light of guidance shone forth, the glass of the heart became illumined and the darkness of ignorance dispelled. The Most Great Guidance is a crown the brilliant gems of which will shine upon all the future ages and cycles. If it is placed on the head of a servant, he will become the object of the envy of Kings, for this is an imperishable crown and an everlasting sovereignty. God says in the great Qur'an, He particularizes with His Mercy whomsoever He desireth. Praise be to God that thou hast become especialized with divine Favor and Bounty. Thou didst become awake, beheld the lights and harkened unto the Melody of the Supreme Concourse. In the glorious Gospel it is said, 'Freely ye have received, freely give.' That is, you have found this bestowal, you have paid nothing for it, therefore give it to others without any exchange. Now with a heavenly power, with a lordly gift, with spiritual morals, with Godlike deeds, and with supreme Glad Tidings be thou engaged in the promotion of the teachings of God in Japan. The confirmations of the Kingdom shall encompass and the cohorts of the Realm of Might will triumph. Upon thee be greeting and praise.Translated by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, Haifa, Syria, October 28, 1916.
In my Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, He wrote
O thou heavenly daughter! Thy letter through Mr. Hannen was received from Japan; likewise the letters of Mr. Fukuta. The contents of both letters imparted exceeding joy, for each word was an eloquent tongue explaining the wonders of the Love of God and elucidating the story of the attraction of the heart with the Breaths of the Holy Spirit.Translated by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, Haifa, Syria, October 27, 1916.
The letter of February 9, continues: "At this time the Cause is certainly spreading with great bounds in this land. Our brother, Mr. Kenzo Torikai, who is visiting his native home after an absence of twelve years, has been awake giving the Message wherever he goes. During the past week several Tokyo papers have had
After receiving the precious Tablets, a week passed when again the same great joy filled my heart, only this time it lasted for three days, and then the blessed Table reached me from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá on February seventeenth It had come, like the others, in the contents of a letter from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's secretary. The Tablet follows:
O thou daughter of the Kingdom! Thy letter dated July 15, 1916 was received. Its contents indicated that thou hast organized a meeting in Japan. Consider thou what a great favor God has bestowed that such spiritual meetings are being held in Tokyo and such heavenly gifts are being distributed.
On February sixteenth, I wrote to Marquis Shigenobu Okuma, the founder of Waseda University, which the four students who assisted in the Bahá'í translating attended, and sent him some Bahá'í literature for the University library. Several years later I was privileged to meet him and have a happy interview when he told me he was glad I was in his country teaching the Bahá'í Cause.
Although I lived very humbly among the people, receiving in my simple Japanese home any poor student who wished to come, the Cause of God was given wide publicity through the press in Japan. The American owned paper Japan Advertiser had published many letters I had sent them pertaining to the Bahá'í teachings, as well as other Tokyo publications. One day I felt the urge to take something I had written for the Bahá'í Anniversary Day, May twenty-third, of the history of the Cause, to the editor of the Japan Advertiser. By nature I was extremely timid and I often told the friends it was a proof of the power in the Bahá'í Cause that I come alone to Japan and live and stand alone. Because of an experience I had once had, it took courage for to go to see the editor. This undoubtedly was a test to make me braver. As I ascended the stairs to the office I repeated the Greatest Name. To my great surprise when I met the editor he arose from his chair and said, "I know you." Afterwards I realized he must have sympathized with the letters I had sent to the paper with my card. Without any hesitation he accepted my article and we had a friendly talk about spiritual things. In obeying His guidance I witnessed His confirmations!
On March thirty-first, I wrote of the happy Naw-Rúz gathering we had, the third one to be celebrated in Japan. Twelve young men came and we held the feast around a table made by using one of the Japanese sliding doors. I wrote. "Now that the young men are established in the Cause, the 'other wing' must be developed before the bird can fly. Until this is done, farther progress cannot be great in this land . . . Dr. Augur lives two hours on the train from Tokyo at the beach of Zushi, but every Friday he comes to the meeting and is a great help, as his knowledge of the Teachings is so great. In answer to almost any question, he can quote the exact words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá or Bahá'u'lláh. Last night a young Japanese girl addressed and sent out to the women's journals of Japan copies of Message of Love to the Women of Japan so we hope soon the bird will be taking flight with two strong wings."
At that time I was corresponding with a girl who was "hungering for the Water of Life." She had read a magazine article about the Bahá'í Cause by Mr. Akita and wrote me wishing to know more. As she did not know English, with Fukuta San's help in translating, we began corresponding. I sent her the few Bahá'í publications we had in the Japanese language, among which was Message of Love to the Women of Japan. She wrote me that she had left the home of her adopted parents and was striving to care for herself by writing. Then one day a letter came asking if she might come to be with me, that she was willing to do any humble work in order to live a noble life. I replied inviting her to come to my home. Someone said to me, "You do not know her," but I said, "She is God's child." A day in July she arrived, a pretty girl of about sixteen years, Yuri Mochizuki. We could not talk to each other, but putting my arms around her we conversed in the language of love. She began then to study English. A short time passed, when I received an urgent cable to return to Honolulu. It was God's plan, I feel, which came in that form. I felt there must be a plan for my little girl, but everything I thought of failed. Then I wrote to Mr. Torii about her. A beautiful letter came in reply in which he wrote that he and his wife would take "God's child." Just before I sailed for Honolulu, Mr. Torii came from Ejiri to see me. Dr. Augur and I had agreed to pay the rent of a Japanese house where Mr. Torii and his wife could live in Tokyo and keep the Bahá'í meetings. I promised to provide the means for the girl that she might go to school, until the time when I would return to Japan, and then she could come to be with me. The day I sailed from Yokohama, July twenty-seventh, the Braille
First Young Woman Bahá'í of the Far East
While Yuri Mochizuki was with me, I asked her if she would she would not like to write to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. She wrote her letter in Japanese which Fukuta San translated into English. The following is the first letter to be sent from a Japanese girl to the Master! "To the Holy Servant of God! O the Inexhaustible Fountain of Love and Mercy! O the Teacher who gives new life and strength to the weak lambs in the world! I feel very happy and honored having been born in a secluded village in a corner of the Orient, Japan, to be able to write a letter to the Divine Teacher. May you be the Light which illumines and consoles the troubles of my heart for ever and ever! I pray you that I may be filled with your teachings so thoroughly that even a little motion of my poor flesh and spirit will constantly praise your name.
"My thought is your teaching; my beauty is your teaching; my courage is your teaching and my love is your teaching.
"Miss Alexander, who came here and worked for the first time in this Cause, is now going back to her country. We little Japanese Bahá'ís feel ourselves just like stray sheep that have lost their shepherd who fondled them so tenderly, but we accept it without any complaint at all if it is His Will. When we are left alone we must work in the teaching of God, praying for His help, so that He may give us great strength. Even here in Japan there are many who are thirsting, and we will let them know of you, so that they can be refreshed and regain their lives from the Sweet Fountain of the Truth.
"I am studying under the care of our Bahá'í mother, Miss Alexander, having your Name and picture upon my writing desk, whose merciful eyes are watching over me, and I can gain from them always life and strength.
"Oh my Teacher! Let me cry in thanks, you are my whole life!"
When we parted at the steamer in Yokohama, Yuri San, as we called her, wept. She went from there to Ejiri to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Torii until they moved to Tokyo where she entered a Japanese Girls' High School. This child of God had the distinction of being the first of her sex in the Far East to come under the shelter of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's tender love.
Before I sailed for Honolulu, Mrs. Augur had returned to Japan. She and Dr. Augur were living in Zushi, where they remained until December 29, 1917, when they returned to their home in Honolulu, but came again to Japan in the fall of 1918, and remained until the spring of 1919.
When I left Japan we had in the Japanese language the following Bahá'í publications: The Religion of Love, consisting of the teachings of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá translated by a group of young men; A Message of Love to the Women of Japan, which I wrote and Miss Ichi Kamichika translated into Japanese; The New Civilization, written in Japanese by Mr. Kenzo Torikai; ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Teachings about Peace, translated by Mr. Daiun Inouye; A Message of Light consisting of Words of Bahá'u'lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá translated and transcribed into Braille by Tokujiro Torii. All of these publications were printed through the generous donation of our dear Bahá'í brother, Mr. W.H. Randall, of Boston, Massachusetts.
November Twelfth Celebration in Tokyo
Mrs. Augur wrote me the following account of the celebration of Bahá'u'lláh's birthday at the little Bahá'í home in Tokyo on November 12, 1917: "I must tell you of the beautiful meeting at the Bahá'í home. It was a perfect day and all the sliding doors were open. A long table, Japanese style, was in the room large enough for all to sit around. Two large baskets of fruit and three bouquets of flowers were on the table. First Mr. Torii spoke to the young men in Japanese — his dear face was illumined. After he spoke we all read from the Hidden Words and then silent prayer. George (Dr. Augur) opened the meeting by telling of the significance of the day . . . and then Dorothy Hodgins spoke very lovely of her meeting with ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris and of two beautiful talks He gave. Then Mr. Torii spoke to the young men in Japanese about the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár . . . and then Dorothy read from Mrs. Goodall's book when she was in '‘Akká about the Feast to the Jews when the three women were guests. Then George had the young men read the Tablet on Peace and Bahá'u'lláh's sufferings and the meeting closed with Mr. Torii reading extracts from Bahá'u'lláh's Writings and a young Japanese played on the violin very nicely, then tea and refreshments were served. It was a beautiful spiritual Feast in every way. There were twenty-five of us in all. Mr. Torii read us the letter he wrote to the Chicago and American friends, which was very touching and beautiful. I felt the spirit so greatly in that little room. As Mr. Torii read the extracts from Bahá'u'lláh's writings with the sun shining on his dear blind eyes, I could hardly keep the tears back. His face is so spiritual. I feel he will do a blessed work in Tokyo. There were five blind young men at the meeting."
Bahá'ís of Japan Stand Alone
In 1918 the Light of the New Day was kept burning in Tokyo in the little home of Mr. and Mrs. Torii, where the Bahá'í meetings continued to be held for two years, until I returned again to Japan and established another little home.
Mrs. Ella Cooper, of San Francisco, and I had sent the record of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Voice to the Bahá'í home in Tokyo. On January ninth, Mr. Torii wrote me: "The voice record of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá has just arrived today and a thousand thanks to you and Mrs. Cooper, but, alas, dear sister, it has been broken into just two pieces! O what a sorrow to my heart! I will try to have it mended, but I don't know that it can be done. By this matter, however, I have been taught a good lesson that it is a great error for a man to try to seek the spiritual among the material. We can't find the Eternal in the transitory. Indeed, I have realized myself that I can, I must hear His Voice with my spiritual ears, not my physical ears; and I must see Him with my spiritual eyes, not material sight . . . But please give my utmost thanks to Mrs. Cooper who sent it to me so kindly. Esperanto is spreading among the students of Waseda University, so much
On January fourteenth, Mr. Torii wrote: "Yesterday we had a blessed meeting of this New Year. Thank God the record has been almost mended and we could hear ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Voice yesterday, whose sound made our hearts full of love and peace. Indeed, it makes me very peaceful and gives me profound joy to hear it. Thousand thanks to you and Mrs. Cooper for such kindness to send it to us. I feel that we are all coming nearer and nearer so that we may be one chain of love at last. I am very glad to tell you that yesterday we had a deaf friend present at our meeting. He is twenty-one years old and became deaf when he was twelve. He can read our lips and answer very well. He graduated from the Middle School. He is an eager Christian, but he is much interested in the Bahá'í teachings. He is the first one among the deaf to be interested in the Message. He understands English very well. Is it not wonderful that he is guided to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá!" This young man, Mr. Kurita, I met in 1922 in Seoul, Korea.
On February fourteenth, Mr. Torii wrote: "On the evening of the twenty-fourth of January we had a meeting of the blind Bahá'ís for the first time, and though we were only six in number, it was the most spiritual meeting we have ever had. Some sighted Bahá'ís came and spoke for us the blind. I am sending a picture of that meeting as I think it will please you very much."
On March eleventh, a babe was born in the Torii home. The mother saw a shining light at the time of its birth, and he was named Akira meaning "shining light." When I heard of the child, I wrote ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Later in a Tablet addressed to Mr. Torii, He wrote: "Convey to thy respected wife my greetings and my message and the same to thy young babe, Akira, whose name may be ever blessed for it is quite an appropriate one." The story of this dear boy is recounted in another chapter. On April twenty-fourth Mr. Torii wrote me: "My beloved sister in the Covenant, spring rains are softly falling through the night and my dreams fly away far beyond the sea and perch upon the hearts of my friends known or unknown. Calmness and peacefulness are reigning in my midnight home. The newcomer is soundly asleep and all the family are in dreams, but soon they will awake again as well as mankind. I feel such a peaceful love towards all the world that I have never experienced since the little baby has come to this world, and I think this is the favor that he brought to me from the other world. Indeed, here we can find and touch true humanity."
I received letters also from Yuri Mochizuki. In one she wrote: "I had a dream the night of January first (1918) which I am going to tell you. There was a large green field and there stood a man whom I did not know well, but I was standing before him with sadness. After a while we walked together toward the edge of the field taking each other's hands. At last we came to a hill and climbed it. The hill was covered with something grey and the atmosphere was filled with melancholy. Then suddenly a light appeared from the top of the hill and it came nearer to us. Then out of that light appeared the Prophet of Love ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and guided us to go with Him to the field again. The field was bright and more luminous than before, and in the midst of it we found little fountain. The Prophet of Love was praying for a while standing by the fountain. His white beard was blown by the breezes against His black gown. O, how majestic He looked supporting Himself on a cane! While we were wistfully looking at Him a crowd of people came around the spring. It seemed to me they were all Japanese. Then I awoke."
After my return to Honolulu, I remained a month, and here after sixteen years I met Louise who had married John Bosch. The love which was ignited between us in Green Acre in 1901, was renewed and I was privileged to spend many days in spiritual refreshment in their home in Geyserville. They came to love the Bahá'í children of Japan, and through correspondence Louise made a unity with them. Before I left Japan she had commenced corresponding with an eager student, T. Tachibana, with whom she exchanged many deeply spiritual letters, answering his questions and explaining the Teachings of God. Their correspondence extended over a period from 1917 to August, 1923. In a letter from Geyserville, I wrote March 24, 1918: "May I ask the especial prayers of the friends for a young Japanese who is eagerly seeking true religion, T. Tachibana. When he heard of my departure from Japan he wrote a beseeching letter ending, 'Oh how I long for the jewel which you will send me before my tiny but bright little light goes out.' In his last letter he writes, 'My elder sister, please pray for me and assist me to touch the Holy Spirit in which you being guided.' The letter ends, 'From your poor, thirsting for true religion and feeling loneliness friend.' . . . When it is His Time I expect to return to Japan and with the little sister Yuri Mochizuki, to work especially for the women, for without the two wings, the bird cannot fly. Some of the friends already know of this sister whom God guided to me before I left Japan. At that time she could not speak or understand a word of English, but her heart was touched by the New Spirit which is pervading the world. In the little Bahá'í home in Tokyo, the flower of her soul has blossomed forth, and through His Divine aid, she can now write a beautiful English letter, and if God so wills, she may become the spiritual mother to the women of Japan. She is an orphan in the world, but ‘Abdu'l-Bahá has consoled her heart and brought her peace."
For the first time in 1918 I was privileged to attend the Bahá'í Convention in Chicago. There I was asked to tell of the Japanese Bahá'ís in Japan. That summer the Esperanto Association of North America invited me to be a guest at their Congress in Green Acre and speak of the Esperantists of Japan. This gave me a wonderful opportunity, not only in making a better understanding between the Esperantists of the two countries, but in bringing to their attention the Bahá'í teachings and words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá concerning a universal language. When I quoted the words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, they were received with great applause.
Mr. Torii wrote me at that time: "I feel that God
Last Visit of Dr. and Mrs. Augur to Japan
In the fall of 1918, Dr. and Mrs. Augur returned to Japan and remained there until the spring of 1919. They rented a little furnished Japanese house in Tokyo, where they assisted in the Bahá'í work. After their return to Honolulu, they were recipients of a beautiful Table from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Dr. Augur told me the following in regard to it. "I wrote ‘Abdu'l-Bahá a detailed letter in which I said the question was asked me, 'Well, what did you accomplish over there in Japan?' I replied, 'There is only one person in the world who can answer that question and He is not a person.'" The Tablet addressed to Dr. and Mrs. Augur follows:
O ye the two doves nestling in the garden of the Love of God! Your detailed letter was received. Your services at this spot are recognized and appreciated, particularly (your service) in Tokyo. Praise be to God that in that region ye have been assisted in diffusing the musk-scented perfume, and this in future is pregnant with remarkable results. These few seeds of corn that ye have sown in that soil shall lead to luxuriant crops, this limited number of souls will converted into great cohorts, nay rather into an imposing spiritual army, and that seed, under the Divine Direction, shall yield abundant and heavy clusters.
After their return from Japan, Dr. and Mrs. Augur remained in their house in Honolulu, which was the Center for the Bahá'ís until 1927, when they moved to the beach at Waikiki. One day in speaking of the beach, Dr. Augur said to me, "It is not as beautiful as Zushi." They have both passed to their reward. Dr. Augur died at the beach on September 14, 1927, and Mrs. Augur in Oakland, California, on April 21, 1936.
click for larger photo
Mr. Fukuta, the first Japanese to become a Bahá'í in Japan, and Miss Alexander hold the Greatest Name. Dr. Augur is in the kimono; Mr. Tanaka (far left); Mr. Akita, a writer, (second from right) and four Waseda students make up this picture which was taken in Tokyo, October 1916.
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."
Meeting the Editor of the "Canton Times"
In December, 1919, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá said to some American pilgrims in Haifa, "New China has just awakened."
One morning in the summer of 1920, I read in the newspaper that a group of Chinese newspaper men were visiting Tokyo. Immediately a burning desire came in my heart to tell them of the Bahá'í Message before they returned to China. When Yuri Mochizuki, who lived with me, came home from the newspaper office where she worked, I asked her if she had heard of the visitor. She replied that they had visited the newspaper office but she did not know where they were staying. The next morning, as I knew of no other way to find them, I turned to the Beloved and supplicated His assistance. While in prayer the name of a Japanese friend, a clerk in the Imperial hotel, came to me. I went right to the hotel and asked him if he could tell me where to find the visitors. To my surprise he replied that he had not heard of them, then suddenly he said, "Call up the Chinese Legation and ask them." As I did not succeed in telephoning, I decided to go to the Legation myself. At the Legation entrance I met the gatekeeper and told him my errand. He escorted me to the office and I procured the name of the Inn where the group was staying, but learned they were away for the day, and would remain only two days longer in Tokyo. The gatekeeper, who was of Chinese-Japanese parentage, and spoke English fluently, seemed delighted when I told him of the Bahá'í Cause and gave him some booklets. Indeed, it was the wonderful guidance of the Master which led me to the Legation, and the contact I made there opened the way later for me to meet a secretary who became very friendly to the Cause, and was one of those who spoke at the memorial meeting for the Beloved Master.
The next morning, with Yuri San's help, I telephoned to the Inn and asked to speak with someone of the group who understood English. To the one who came to the telephone I gave my name and address and asked him to come and see me. Later in the morning he arrived. He looked very uninterested, but as soon as he heard of the Bahá'í teachings, his whole expression began to change, until when he left his face was radiant. Mrs. Finch had a supply of Bahá'í books to sell, and he procured all available books to take with him to Canton, where he was an editor of the Canton Times, a leading newspaper of China. The following morning he returned accompanied by a friend, Mr. S.J. Paul Pao, of Shanghi, whom he had told of the Bahá'í teachings. Mr. Pao was delighted to hear of the Cause and over and over again repeated, "Wonderful teachings! Wonderful teachings!"
I gave the Canton editor a photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and asked him if he would publish an article in his paper when he returned to Canton. To my great delight, after his return, he sent us a copy of the Canton Times in which the photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá appeared on the front page with translations of Words of Bahá'u'lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. The translations continued to be published in twenty-five editions of the paper, which he sent to us. As the Canton Times was widely circulated in China, the knowledge of the Bahá'í Cause was spread far and wide throughout the country. A proof of this came later when I had occasion to visit the Chinese Legation and inquired if the Minister had heard of the Cause, and was told he had read of it in the Canton Times. At another time I asked a Chinese student if he would send something to be published in the newspaper in the northern province of China where his home was. He told me afterwards that he received a reply that they had already read of the Bahá'í teachings in the Canton Times.
After Mr. Pao's return to Shanghai we corresponded for a while, and George Latimer also exchanged letters with him, then he moved and I had no way of reaching him. In Shanghai a Mr. P.W. Chen was in his office one day and saw some Bahá'í literature on the table. Mr. Pao requested him to take it and translate it for a Shanghai newspaper, which he gladly did. When in Peiping, in 1923, with Martha Root, we met Mr. P.W. Chen, and through him found Mr. Pao who was then living in Peiping. This was the beginning of the Bahá'í Message reaching China through Japan. Thus before the passing of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá it had become known in China, and from that time other doors opened in Tokyo to give the Message to Chinese students.
In February, 1922, a young lady who had come from Honolulu, came to stay with me. On the steamer she met a Chinese officer of the Aviation Corps of the Chinese Army, who was returning to China from study in the West. Through her I met him and gave him a Bahá'í booklet containing the Bahá'í principles and invited him to come to our Bahá'í gathering that afternoon. When he arrived in the afternoon, after having read the booklet, he expressed great enthusiasm for the Bahá'í teachings. Ten were present in our meeting that day, representing China, Korea, Japan and America. Lieut. K. Tsiang wrote in my guest book, "I am so glad to hear the explanations of the principles of Bahá. . ." When Martha Root and I were in Peiping, the next year, we met him and he invited us to speak to the men who were under him in the aviation training school, many of whom were army officers.
Among the friends whom I met when in Korea in 1921, was a young man of Korean parentage who was born in China. Later he moved to Tokyo where he asked me if I would teach Esperanto to a group of Chinese students at the Chinese YMCA. I felt it was an opportunity to spread the Cause and gladly accepted. There were sixteen in the class, only three of whom understood English. Their text book was in Japanese and I was asked to teach Esperanto conversation. One of the students, Mr. H.C. Waung, acted as interpreter. I wrote on April 11, 1922, to a friend: ". . . pray that some of these souls who have pure hearts may find His love. We can teach them without words." After a few lessons I told them briefly of the Bahá'í Cause, and wrote on the blackboard the names of the Revelators and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá
On May 6, 1922, we held a special meeting for Chinese students to make known to them the Bahá'í Message. Six came and the brother Mr. Fukuda. Again on May seventeenth, we had hoped to have a feast for Chinese students, but only one was able to come, Mr. H.C Waung. In my guest book I wrote after his name: "May this seed grow and enlighten many!" On December twenty-second I added the words: "Mr. Waung has translated the booklet, 9, into Chinese and it is now published and sent throughout China." That summer Martha Root had written me asking if I could have the booklet, which contained the Bahá'í principles and extracts from the Holy Writings, translated into Chinese. Mr. Waung was then on a visit in China, and I wrote him and asked if he could do the translating. He answered me that a feeling came to him of something which would come in the future, and working steadily, in three days he was able to accomplish the translation. Dr. Y.S. Tsao and other Chinese friends commended it as a very good translation. It was published in booklet form and afterwards was reprinted in several editions and thousands of copies were distributed throughout China. How great was the blessing which came through the Esperanto class!
Chinese Students Visit Japan
On May 4, 1919, after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the Chinese students arose as one body against the decision in regard to their country. From that day there commenced a new movement called the Student Movement, which took hold of and inspired the youth of China, and from one end of the country to the other they organized. A steady tide of social and educational reforms together with the discarding of the traditions of the past advanced with bounds. It was the outward sign of the onward march of a "tide of new thought," as it was called in China, and new life currents burst forth pulsating with intense vigour the student world.
The eagerness for knowledge of these students, brought to Japan during May and June of 1922, five groups of students from Higher Normal Schools to inspect the schools of Japan. The groups came independent of each other, each group being sent by the local government of its province. A sign of the awakening of the youth of China was that in the past only two such student groups had visited Japan, and also that one of the groups was composed of young women, the first Chinese young women to be sent from China on such a mission. Just as ‘Abdu'l-Bahá sent His Divine Plan to the five points of America, so also the student groups came from the five points of China, that is, the North, South, East, West and Center.
The morning of May eighteenth, a picture of nineteen Chinese young women from Peiping Women's Teachers College, appeared in the daily paper with the statement that they were to be guests of honor that evening at a dinner given by a Japanese newspaper. It was the paper where Yuri Mochizuki had worked before she went to France. In my eagerness to meet the girls and tell them of the Bahá'í Cause, I went to the newspaper office and asked if I might attend the dinner, and received an invitation. Besides the guests of honor at the dinner, and the representatives of the newspaper, some Japanese young women teachers were present. The after dinner speeches were in Japanese into which those of the Chinese girls were translated. After the dinner I met two of the Chinese girls and arranged to call on them. The next morning, May nineteenth, a new joy and inspiration came to me about China, that I would go there myself. The words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá regarding the teacher of the Chinese people rang in my ears: "The Bahá'í teacher of the Chinese people must be imbued with their spirit, know their sacred literature, study their national customs and speak to them from their own standpoint and their terminologies . . ." I immediately went to ask a friend where I could procure books on China. A wonderful opportunity opened to me to study in a library made up of books about China, which had been brought from China to Japan. The books were being catalogued and I was given freedom to read any I wished.
The dinner speeches of the Chinese girls appeared in the Japanese newspaper which sponsored the banquet. The speech of one of the girls, Miss Chien Yung Ho, to whom I was particularly attracted, was translated to me. She said that the Chinese Women's Association of Peiping wished to give all people a chance to live, and especially the lowest class, that all mankind should be allowed happiness without the limitation of sex, race or country. She said they had lost interest in politicians and were developing their interest in world ideas; that they wished to do their utmost for the happiness of the whole population without respect to religion or race, and that their future aim was to establish correspondence with the women of the world.
I went to see the Chinese girls who spoke English and told them my joyful news, that I would go to their country sometime, and gave them some Bahá'í literature. They remained for two weeks in Tokyo and several times I met with them. They told me how within a year all the schools of China, from the grammar to the University, had been opened to women for the first time. The Bahá'í principles of universal education and equality of the sexes were then taking root in China, although Bahá'í teachers had not visited that vast Empire. The last time I met the girls was at the station when they were leaving Tokyo. Miss Chien, the girl whose speech I have quoted, put her arms around me and said, "You are my teacher." She invited me, when I would come to China, to visit the school where she was going to teach and tell the pupils about the Bahá'í Teachings. A year and a half passed and this was fulfilled when Martha Root and I traveled together in China in 1923.
One evening when I went to see the Chinese girls, in the hall I saw some Chinese young men who greatly attracted me. They were from the second group of Higher Normal students who came from China to visit Japan that year, and were from the geographical center of China, the city of Wuchang. Through the Chinese girls I met and talked with some of the group which was composed of thirty-four students. One of the group expressed their ideas as follows: "We love peace, that is our spirit. As we are the oldest civilized country now existent on the earth, our sacred books are many, but the essentials are 'Four Books' and 'Five Classics' of Confucius. We emphasize moral education more than knowledge, but knowledge is power and we do not neglect it. There came a turning point in 1919, which is
The next group of Higher Normal students from China to arrive in Japan were from Peiping. A member of the Chinese Esperanto class, who was attracted to the Cause, arranged for me to meet one of the group on June twelfth. I first questioned him and took notes of what he said before telling him of the Bahá'í Teachings. He said: "We have doubts about everything. We believe we should be active but not blindly. We want information, and are so eager for it we have come to Japan, although we don't know whether we can get anything. We all know that the Peiping government is as corrupt as possible, but this very corruption awakens us. The present condition may seem rather pessimistic, but the students are a force without arms which is known to everyone and their power is feared. The government on one hand tries to suppress them, but on the other hand pays them respect. In the government in Canton women have demanded the privilege to sit in parliament. Woman's emancipation is not only advocated by women, but by men. Many new magazines have appeared especially dealing with this question. Two years ago new schools for women were started throughout the country and within a year coeducation has been adopted in all the government schools. Women are now admitted to the Peiping University. Now young men and women meet together freely. It is the women who will bring the emancipation of the race. They are the other half which is springing up. The greatest cooperation is that between the males and females. At first the social intercourse between the sexes seemed to shock the common people, but now they have become accustomed to it. The aims of the students are first, sound government; second, real liberty; third, peace which we always love and advocate. If these things are realized, the students can then devote themselves to study and contribute to the world's civilization, which is their fourth aim. These things are the good side, but we have to pay for them. The farmers are not able to raise their crops only because of civil wars. Though coeducation is enforced we have drawbacks. First the students, male and female must have sufficient knowledge, or they make blunders. If on the one hand they have not enough knowledge, the wrong will be committed. We have little knowledge of foreign affairs but we have doubts. All such things are compensated for by what we have received. There is a new movement which commenced on March ninth of this year. It is so called the 'Anti-Religion Movement.' It has sprung from the doubts. We want emancipation and liberty. We feel religion is something which binds us. This movement is now very strong. It was first organized in the schools in Peiping and now has spread to other places forming a unit. The base of the movement is science. It is to break away from all superstitions. Religion is superstition which is against science. The movement started against Christianity. Christianity itself is all right, but it is the conduct of it and its abuses which the movement is against. The scholars have not yet paid great attention and study in regard to this movement. They have not yet expressed their opinions. If they did it would be solved. We wait for the great scholars. We have now no proper solutions. We wait for results.
"The impression from our visit to Japan is that the Japanese are certainly more advanced in education than we are. They have a spirit of doing. If they get a new idea, they try to carry it out and they have favorable conditions. In China this spirit is not so strong because we are now discussing and have not yet reached conclusions. In this way the Japanese educational work is better than ours. The Japanese are faithful, not only to their nation as a whole, but to their profession. Another thing is they have order. At present the Chinese condition is quite different, there is no order at all. A proverb of Confucius says that if you are in a dilemma which way to go, you will never reach your destination."
When the student finished speaking, I told him of Bahá'u'lláh and the Bahá'í Message which he was ready to understand. In Peiping I met this young man again in 1923.
Another group of fifty Higher Normal School graduates arrived in Tokyo from the far western city of Chengtu in Szechuan province. My longing to meet them was so great that until it was achieved I could not rest. The good friend, Mr. H.C. Waung, assisted me to meet four of the group, whom he guided to my home and gave me the opportunity to tell them of the glorious Message of Bahá'u'lláh. They told me how they had traveled for a month to reach Tokyo. The first twelve days were through rough country in sedan chairs, then by river steamers until Shanghai was reached, where they embarked for Japan. One of the students said that the people of their province were ready now to do anything which would be for the good of the people. He said: "All countries are now searching education. In our educational work we have two problems. The first is financial. We have not enough money and this is due to the government. The other problem is that many of the old school people hesitate in adopting new ideas and because of the isolation of Szechuan province, education is difficult. Of course China is now in a very confused condition, but it is a necessary step we have to take. Our characteristic is peace. Our history is more than four thousand years old. Three thousand years ago Emperor Yu realized that a country should have an aim, and he made the virtue of the people the aim. From that time until the present we have held this aim. We have not invaded other nations, although the Chinese people have been humbled by other races. All Chinese love peace and realize that friendship among countries is necessary. We have never prepared to attack other races. . . . I am quite sure your doctrine will be welcomed everywhere in China, for as I said, the people love peace and they want to unite the world as one."
After their return to China, when the students became teachers in school, I corresponded with two of them. One of these, Kai Tai Chen, wrote an article for me which was published in the Bahá'í Magazine (See Vol. 13, page 215). The other student, Mr. T. Z. Wu, became a teacher in the Middle School in Nanking, where in 1923 he invited Martha Root and me to speak to the school.
The last group of Chinese Higher Normal graduates to visit Tokyo were a party of twenty-two who came from Canton. While in Tokyo their time was filled, and only through the help of Mr. Waung was I enabled to meet a member of the group, but as ‘Abdu'l-Bahá said, one holy soul was better than a thousand, so this young man, Shik Fan Fong, became illumined with the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. Mr. Waung told him of the Cause and arranged to bring him to my home. The day on
How great was the bounty of God which assisted me to give His Message to representatives of these five groups of Chinese students! None of them had heard of the Cause before, yet their thoughts were permeated with the very principles which Bahá'u'lláh gave to the world. It was an inspiration to meet them and feel them and feel the new life which was pulsating in the heart of young China. The seeds sown in these awakened students blossomed in China, where some of them assisted Martha Root and me in 1923 to give the Bahá'í Message to their pupils. After they left Tokyo, in the hot summer, while others were vacationing, I had the great privilege of spending many hours reading in the library of Chinese books, preparing for the time when I too would go to China.
Letters From Chinese Students
After the Chinese student groups returned to China, I corresponded with some of them. In a letter to me, Miss Chien Yang Ho wrote: "Traveling to Japan gave us the good luck to meet you, who accepted us with your very warm heart. . . Our schoolmates recently have a conference called, 'Female Freedom Extending Conference.' The purpose of it was to discuss and settle things regarding education, constitution, economics, labor, etc., with respect to females. The meeting will be held weekly and famous people are invited to give lectures and magazines are to be published . . . Besides this conference, a Women's Suffrage Conference has been established by the Peiping girls. . . I would appreciate it very much if you let me have ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's writings. . . . All of us are remembering you and desiring to hear from you at all times. Your loving friend."
Shik Fan Fong, the student from Canton, wrote me: ". . . Cantonese have actually the world spirit and ideas of this age for we received the foreign people first of all the places in China, and also a great many of us have traveled about the earth. We had tried to modernize our city to an ideal one, especially the last few years, the returned students from foreign countries make much more progress. We like peace much, and we like universal peace still much more. Therefore the principles of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá will be surely welcomed with heart and soul in Canton. So far as I have returned to Canton many of my friends have come to see me and asked me what I had gotten from Japan. I always named out firstly you, the universal teacher, and Bahá'u'lláh, the beloved Master. In fact, you are the most figurative feature in my record of this journey. I have tried to convey His Message of Truth to my friends whenever and wherever I have met with them and they have been heartedly welcomed. After I have studied all the pamphlets and paper you gave me, I shall translate some of them into Chinese. . . I will be very glad to hear from you the lovable Truth, and I hope to do my best for the truth!"
In another letter from Shik Fan Fong, written on the steamer on his way to California to enter the University there, he wrote: "In order to know that you will come with honor to our China, I am very glad to welcome you with heart and soul for you are the Messenger of God and you come really for the welfare of China and for the good of this age. One thing I have to inform you is that the universal language has been set as a course of study in our college beginning this autumn. Indeed, many magazines, newspapers and educators have encouraged the teaching of Esperanto in Chinese schools. This may be a good chance for the spread of the new spirit of this age to China, for the universal language may be as the wire to the telegraph or the ether to the wireless."
Again from Berkeley, California, where he entered the University, Shik Fan Fong wrote: "Some of my friends here after listening to what I said about this revelation, became interested in research of the history and development of the Bahá'í movement. Among them, a close friend, . . . intends to know more about the religion. Many thanks if you can help him. I have a thousand good wishes for your coming glorious deed as Messenger to our China. Accept them as a remembrance of Bahá'í Brothership."
Mr. Wu Tun Zin, who came to Tokyo with the students from Szechuan, wrote me in April, 1923: "I am very glad to know that Miss Martha Root will come to China for the sake of spreading the Glad-Tidings of the Bahá'í . . . I am very glad to hear that you are so interested in China. But I think it would be much better for you to come to China and study it in a direct way, for I am afraid the information from books which are often described as 'secondhand' is not always reliable. . . After all, I should think that if there were a Bahá'í Assembly somewhere in China, things would go on smoothly. You could publish articles through it and adopt any means you might think effective for the spreading of the great movement. I think Miss Root must have thought of this when she comes to China."
A letter reached me in Tokyo on September 20, from the Greatest Holy Leaf who wrote:
you a pioneer in carrying the Message of this Dispensation to the farther most countries of the world and to the most obscure.
In China With Martha Root in 1923
At the time of the great earthquake of September 1, 1923, in Tokyo, my own sister, Miss Mary C. Alexander was climbing Mt. Fuji and it was a month before she could return to join me again in Tokyo. Then I disposed of my household belongings, and on October twelfth we left Yokohama by steamer. On the way to Peiping by train, we stopped for a few days at Seoul, Korea. Beloved Martha Root was in Peiping looking forward to our joining her there, which the great earthquake brought about. As we left Japan everything was orderly but on arrival in Peiping it was the reverse, due to the economic conditions and the struggle for existence of the poor.
Before we reached Peiping, Martha had gone one day to Tsing Hua University, formerly the Boxer Indemnity College of Peiping, and called on President and Mrs. Y.S. Tsao, who received her most kindly. Her errand was to speak to them of the Bahá'í Cause which they listened to without prejudice. This little act of Martha's was productive of great confirmations and far reaching results. Mrs. Tsao was of Swedish birth, but became a naturalized American. She was a truth seeker and member of the Theosophical Society. Dr. Tsao graduated from Yale College in 1911. He was married in London where for five years he served his government. When he reached Peiping, through Martha, Dr. Tsao had invited me to speak on the Bahá'í Cause in the University auditorium before all the assembled students. Dr. and Mrs. Tsao also entertained us at a Chinese luncheon. Then he arranged for a second meeting, inviting any of the students who wished to talk personally with us. Four earnest students gathered, each one having a different problem. One had been brought up as a Muhammadan, another as a Christian and a third had no religion. I was a very stimulating meeting, as each spoke from the depths of his heart. From that time Dr. Tsao allied himself with the Bahá'í Faith both in writing and in public speeches.
In Peiping I met again Lieut. K. Tsing, who had heard of the Cause when passing through Japan, in my home in Tokyo. He was in charge of an aviation training school and invited Martha and me to speak there on the Bahá'í Cause. The school was composed principally of adult men, many of whom were army officers. It was an inspiring experience to speak to these men of the Promised One of this age. Lieut. Tsing spoke first in Chinese most earnestly, and then introduced us and interpreted our words into Chinese. The men were most attentive and appeared to be without prejudice. At another time Lieut. Tsing entertained us for dinner.
One day in Peiping Martha went to a meeting where she had an opportunity to mention the Cause. After the meeting a Mr. P.W. Chen came to her and asked if she knew Mr. Pao. He was the friend who had visited my home in Tokyo in 1920, with the editor from the Canton Times and heard of the Cause. It was a great joy to find that he was then living in Peiping and serving as one of the secretaries to General Feng, known at that time as the Christian General of China. He came to see me and it was arranged for Martha and me to speak at General Feng's school, which was attended by the children of the officers in his army. It was a very happy occasion and every child in the school was given a Chinese Bahá'í booklet, thus they became torch bearers of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to General Feng's army of 10,000 men.
From the day Martha met Mr. P.W. Chen, he became a devoted friend and assisted us. It was he who saw the Bahá'í books which Mr. Pao had brought from Japan, in Shanghai in 1920, and at Mr. Pao's request translated from them for a newspaper in Shanghai. In Peiping he was a teacher of a middle school. Through him Martha and I were invited to speak in a large gathering on the Cause. He introduced us to a Mr. Deng Chieh-Ming, who became an ardent friend to the Cause.
At that time in Peiping there was an Esperanto School where Martha was assisting in teaching English. On several occasions we had gatherings there and spoke of the Cause.
With Mr. Pao's assistance we arranged on November fourth to hold a Bahá'í feast, the first of its kind to be held in Peiping. Seven friends were present including Mr. Pao and Mr. P.W. Chen.
The month spent in Peiping was filled with Bahá'í activities. There we met Dr. Gilbert Reid, editor of the International Journal. He had the distinction of being the only person in China, as far as we know, to receive a Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. His spiritual eyes, though, were not opened.
When we left Peiping, we stopped at six cities on our way to Shanghai. In two of these cities there were teachers whom I had met in Tokyo when they visited there after their graduation from Higher Normal Schools in China, and in a third city there was an Esperantist with whom I had been corresponding. These friends had invited us to come to their cities and speak of the Bahá'í Cause. In the other three cities we visited, we had introductions from friends in Peiping to teachers of schools where we had opportunities to speak of the Cause.
Martha and I carried with us wherever we went several hundred of the Chinese Bahá'í booklets, which had been translated by Mr. C.W. Waung, the student in Tokyo. These we distributed in all the schools where we spoke of the Cause, and through the pupils they would reach the homes, and thus the Word of God for this Day was scattered far and wide in our travels in China.
The new friend, Mr. Deng Chieh-Ming was so eager to learn all he could of the Cause, that he accompanied us on the train to Tientsin, our first stop. There we spent a night and Martha spoke in two schools. At midnight we took a train to Ginanfu, the city where my Esperantist friend was a student. It happened to be a Chinese train which had a special compartment for women. When the Chinese women in the compartment saw us entering they were frightened. Then the kind friend, Mr. Deng, who had accompanied us, explained to them who we were and that we were friends, which put them at ease. My sister had preceded us to Ginanfu, but on account of Martha's talks we could not leave, and were obliged to take the late train.
On the way to Nanking, Martha and I dropped off the train at Tsuchowfu, where Miss Chien Yung Ho, whom I met in Tokyo from the Peiping Teacher's College, had become principal of a school. She had invited us to stop there and tell her pupils of the Bahá'í Cause. We had expected to let her know when we would arrive. As it happened we did not know in time, and our message reached her only after we had arrived. It was very early on a cold morning that our train reached Tsuchowfu. Just as Martha and I stepped from the train, two American men were boarding it and asked where we were going. We found that the Chinese city of Tsuchowfu was distant from the railroad stop. They had come to the train in rickshaws and told us to take them and go to the house they had just left where a warm fire was burning. We were certainly protected and cared for by the Hand of God. The owner of the house where we were taken was an American who was in the Standard Oil business and was accustomed to taking in guests. When we told him of the school we wished to visit, he offered to go with us to the Chinese city, several miles distant, and inquire at the American Mission hospital where to find it. The school was near the hospital, and within an hour after our unexpected arrival, we were telling the Glad Tidings to the pupils in that far away school. Then Miss Chien and other teachers arranged a gathering for us in the afternoon and we remained with them until evening, when we returned to the home of our kind host, and left early the next morning on our way to Nanking, where we again joined my sister.
In Nanking was Mr. T.Z. Wu, whom I had met in Tokyo with the student group from Szechuan. He was teaching in a middle school and through him we were invited to speak to the students. We also spoke in several other schools and in all the schools, the teachers of English acted as our interpreters.
From Nanking we went to Soochow where again Martha spoke in many schools. When we reached Shanghai, our last stop, Martha was not well for a time, and was obliged to rest. Afterwards she visited other cities in China, as Wuchang, Hanchow, Canton and Hongkong, everywhere actively working day and night to spread His Message.
The Esperanto student, Daniel Yu, in Ginanfu, wrote me on December 6, 1923: "Pro via restado en Tsinan, vi ne devas danki min, sed ni ciuj danku la Providencon, Ke ni havas la sancon prediki la veron en Tsinan. Via semado en Tsinan certe produktos rican rikolton."
From the first Middle School of Nanking, Wu Tun Zin wrote, December 24, 1923: "Your life is indeed a strenuous one. I do appreciate your work, still more your spirit. It gives me inspiration in my work, I often ask myself, 'Why don't I have the same spirit in my work, as others have in theirs?' You will be my example, I will imitate you in doing my work, though we are working different lines.
After I reached Honolulu, a precious letter came from the Guardian:
With Martha Root in Shanghai in 1930
In 1930 Martha Root, who had been in Persia, wrote me that she would be coming to the Far East. As I had felt I should meet her in China, I wrote to ask the Guardian's advice and on April 30, 1930, the following answer came from him:
Haifa, March 16, 1930
The latter part of September, 1930, I reached Shanghai. Martha was then in Hong Kong and it was ten days before she arrived to join me. In the meantime I found the dear friends, Dr. and Mr. Y.S. Tsao, who had moved from Peiping, where Dr. Tsao had served eight years as President of Tsing Hua College. The lovely Persian Bahá'í family of Mr. M.H.A. Ouskouli, consisting of his mother-in-law, his oldest daughter and her husband Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Suleimani, his two younger daughters and son, and the Persian brother, Mr. H. Touty were also living in Shanghai. As soon as they and Dr. and Mrs. Tsao came to know one another, they arranged to have Bahá'í meetings every two weeks at the Ouskouli home.
When Martha reached Shanghai, Dr. and Mrs. Tsao came immediately to see her, and he offered his services to assist her in any possible way. Then she began her vigorous work, especially with the newspapers, in which she succeeded in getting many Bahá'í articles published. I shall never forget the historic moment when Dr. Tsao voluntarily offered to translate Esslemont's book into Chinese. Martha was so touched that her eyes filled with tears of joy. From that time Dr. Tsao devoted his only leisure time to this work, which was done at night after busy days. In referring to it he wrote: "After studying the Bahá'í Faith and the reviving effect it produces over the heart and mind of man, I came to the conclusion that the only way to regenerate China is to introduce the Bahá'í teachings to China, and therefore I began to translate the Bahá'í books into Chinese, so that the Chinese nation may be benefited too by this heavenly Manifestation. That is why every day after leaving my office, though very tired, I go home and start working on the translations of the Bahá'í teachings, and usually I forget that I am tired."
I spent a month in Shanghai and then returned to Tokyo as I felt the urgency of seeing about the Japanese translation of Esslemont's book, which was being done in Tokyo. The story of Martha's wonderful work in China is recorded and will never be lost. Early in 1931, in a letter to me from Dr. Tsao he wrote of his great pleasure in working for: "the Great Cause that is bound to assume gigantic proportions in the future. The signs of the times are pointing so clearly towards it and my Chinese friends with whom I have discussed it at once acknowledge the beauty and importance of it. We pioneers might find it difficult, but when we have more literature prepared, it will multiply our efforts automatically. . . . Since I started the translation of Dr. Esslemont's book, I have had so many outside activities added, such as giving a series of lectures on Scientific Management, to factory managers and staff people, the YMCA campaign for members and funds, lectures on cooperation between employer and employee, Chairman of the Good Road Exhibition to be held in September, and just this morning a request for a paper on 'The Possibilities that Shanghai Affords for Cultural Contacts,' to be read before the Joint Committee of the Shanghai Women's Organization on May 15th. At this last I will stress women's education according to the Bahá'í Teachings, namely, 'the two wings of mankind.' These activities give me the contacts for the Cause we are trying to unfold in China and I feel intensely that with the spirit one's energies are spent, they will be adequately rewarded in the harvest that will be eventually gathered for our common Cause."
Miss Fung Ling Liu Visits Tokyo
When Keith Ransom-Kehler was with me in Tokyo in July, 1931, we had the joy of meeting Miss Fung-Ling Liu, who was returning to her home in Canton from study in the United States. It was through meeting Martha Root in the University of Michigan that Miss Liu was directed to the Bahá'ís as she traveled westward toward her home.
While her steamer was in port in Yokohama, Miss Liu came to Tokyo and spent a night with us. It was an especially happy occasion, as it was the evening when we held a Bahá'í meeting and a spiritual unity was made between this Chinese young woman and the Japanese friends.
Miss Liu's brother had accepted the Bahá'í Cause when attending Cornell University, and through meeting his sister, Keith was invited to be a guest in his home in Canton when she was on her way to Australia.
Professor R.F. Piper Meets Shanghai Bahá'ís
In 1932, Prof. Raymond Frank Piper, of Syracuse University, who had heard of the Bahá'í Cause while in Honolulu, passed through Japan. From China he wrote me on December 5, 1932: "To meet three ardent Bahá'ís in Shanghai the other evening was like a breath of fresh spiritual air from the pure land of God. There were four of us, two Persian, one Chinese and I American. . . . In physical origin we were of three races. I am sure the others, during our happy evening together, were quite as unconscious as I of the difference of racial origins. We realized in profound feeling the unity and comity of mankind. We were one in the spirit of comradeship in the great cause of bringing God and brotherhood to mankind. I wrote in my diary. 'This was a night of joy and illumination.' Mr. Ouskouli wrote in my autograph
Dr. Yun-Siang Tsao
On February 8, 1937, Dr. Tsao died suddenly of a heart attack while returning to his home from his office in Shanghai. When word reached Shoghi Effendi of his death, he cabled to Mr. Ouskouli, the Persian brother in Shanghai, as follows: Just heard passing dear Dr. Tsao. His distinguished services unforgettable. Assure bereaved relatives friends deepest sympathy prayers.
Born in Kiangsu province in 1881, Dr. Tsao was fifty-six years of age at the time of his death. The life of this distinguished son of China is published in the History of the Class of 1911 Yale College which was written by one of his classmates who knew him best. From this history the following quotations are taken. "Yun-siang (Dr. Y.S. Tsao) came to Yale as a result of having proven in his homeland the high quality of his remarkable intellect, for when thousands of Chinese students were vying with each other in examinations for a chance to study in America, Yun-siang, already a graduate of St. John's College, Shanghai, and known for his literary and speaking ability, was offered the opportunity to go without examination and solely because of demonstrated ability. Having matriculated at Yale, he soon gave evidence of his great adaptability to varying situations, a characteristic which has remained prominent throughout his subsequent career and which, doubtless, has contributed greatly to the measure of his achievements." At Yale he won the distinction of being one of the first Chinese students to take part and win honors in oratorical contests. Here he won the de Forest medal, Yale's highest oratorical honor.
After graduation from Yale Dr. Tsao studied at Harvard. While there in his activities in the interest of social betterment he became acquainted with another foreign student of Swedish parentage who later in London became his wife.
"As he (Dr. Tsao) approached the completion of his university work in America," the History states, "Yunsiang pondered the way in which he could accomplish the greatest amount of good for his countrymen on his return home. Realizing that his viewpoints must have changed considerably in his seven years abroad and that conditions under the new republic would be far different from those which he had previously known, he decided to accept an offer of a position for a year on the faculty of Tsing Hua College, Peking, the American Indemnity College. . . . He had already received attractive offers from prominent business concerns in China but a short while before leaving for home he received a very flattering appointment from his government as a secretary in the London Embassy. After serious consideration, however, he wired back, 'Tsao prefers Tsing Hua'. The government's reply was to bring such pressure to bear on him through friends at home that he was finally induced to accept the post, and he remained in London throughout the war doing such good work that he was appointed Consul-General."
In 1919, after serving five years in London, Dr. Tsao returned to China, but before the end of the year his government sent him to Copenhagen as first Secretary of the Chinese Legation of which he became Charge d'Affaires the following year. In 1921 he represented his government at a conference in Geneva and came the same year to America to make the preliminary arrangements in Washington for the Chinese delegates to the Limitation of Armament Conference called by President Harding. Returning home he was made councilor of the State Department and in addition was appointed President of Tsing Hua College, in which, seven years before he had planned to teach. Quoting further the Yale History, "As the College and the foreign office, though both in Peking, were separated by a considerable distance and it was necessary for him to spend part of each day at each place, he felt that he must give up one position and so chose to remain at the College where he had undertaken a considerable program of reorganization. . . . On one occasion while still president of Tsing Hua, he was invited to become the efficiency expert of the largest publishing house in the Far East. . . . In considering the position which eventually he declined, he wrote, 'Personally it makes no difference whether I leave or stay, all I want is to serve where I am most needed and to put my energies where they will tell for society and the country at large,' Always the same unselfish, public-spirited Yun-siang, thinking only of his countryman, never of himself. . . ." The Yale History ends with these words: "He (Dr. Tsao) writes that politically he is a free lance and in regard to church affiliation he is a member of the Bahá'í Movement."
While at Tsing Hua, shortly after the Chinese government had abolished the Lunar Calendar, substituting for it the Gregorian Calendar, Dr. Tsao noticed that the Buddhists were celebrating one of their many religious festivals in connection with the Lunar year. He remarked: "Any faith, habit, or habits established by religion can only be altered or changed by religion. Government decrees in such matters will be of no avail."
An American lady, Miss Anna Bille, who taught under Dr. Tsao at Tsing Hua University writes: "In my opinion, his biggest piece of work was done at Tsing Hua which he guided through the difficult period of transition when it changed from a junior college, largely American, to a full university, fully Chinese and national, though there were always some American teachers. The plan of development for the new university was careful and sound, and an excellent faculty, with democratic organization was built up. The best equipment was secured and a splendid library had been accumulated. Faculty and students alike found Dr. Tsao an understanding and helpful friend, and all regretted it when he left the university. But so firm were the foundations he had laid that the development which he had planned continued uninterrupted."
At the time of his death, Dr. Tsao was the adviser to the Central Bank of China and Editor-in-Chief of the China Quarterly. A seasoned public speaker and a writer who commanded the art of clear diction and forceful presentation, he was an honorary member of the China Society in London and a foreign correspondent of the British Royal Society of Literature. He was also at one time the Secretary-General of the Red Cross Society of China and the China Institute of Scientific Management, as well as President of the American University Club. Besides these offices he was Chairman of the Board of Directors of both the Bosant School for Girls in Shanghai and the Shanghai YMCA and was actively associated with numerous other local organizations.
Among the honors which Dr. Tsao received were decorations from the governments of China, Denmark and Poland.
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Miss Alexander and Miss Martha Root (center) in Peking, China, 1923.
While the Beloved Master was still on earth, the Message of Bahá'u'lláh reached Korea. In His Divine Plan, He remembered these people of the Hermit Kingdom, as it was called in the past, the Land of the Morning Calm, and opened the doors that they might hear the comforting Message of Bahá'u'lláh, and poured His Divine love on them.
As an instrument in the hands of the Divine Gardener, I was privileged to spend a month in Seoul, the old capital, during August and September, 1921, and to convey the Glad Tidings of the coming of the New Day to these remote people. There I witnessed that mysterious force of which ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote: "He (Bahá'u'lláh) has given us an irresistible power which all the nations of the world cannot withstand."
Oh Sang Sun
In Tokyo during the winter and spring of 1920, a Korean student, Oh Sang Sun often visited the little Bahá'í home. He was searching for truth and became deeply attracted to the Bahá'í Cause. He had come from Korea for study in Japan where he had graduated from a Christian Theological School, but had not found spiritual satisfaction. It seemed he was the first of his countrymen to hear the Bahá'í Message and I hoped he would take the Message to his people in Korea. One day when he came to visit us, something seemed to have clouded his bright spirit, and he went away without rejoicing. In my longing to bring back his joyous spirit, I supplicated the Beloved that I might be given the inspiration to write him words which would make him again rejoice. At night and in the morning I continued to supplicate, but the guidance to write did not come. Then suddenly, like a flash of light, a great joy filled my heart. The inspiration which came was entirely unexpected. It was that I would go to Korea and take His Message. From that moment there was awakened in me a great interest in the country and its people. In a letter I wrote March 15, 1920: "A fire is burning in my heart to go to Korea and take His Light . . . the hearts of the Korean people are hungry and they must be fed and He will open the doors. I can only trust in His guidance and leave all in His Hands. The books you sent me I can take on this trip so they will carry more Light to a new country. What a privilege that is! It is more than all my loss." On December 28, 1919, in a fire in Tokyo my Bahá'í literature had been burned.
Soon after the guidance to go to Korea had come, I was invited with Mr. Oh, as we called him, to the home of a Japanese friend of the young Koreans, Mr. M. Yanagi who was striving through the means of art to bring better understanding between these two oriental peoples. We spent the afternoon at his home in Abiko, near Tokyo, and I had the opportunity to speak of the Bahá'í Faith.
On May first Mr. Oh in company with Mr. Yanagi left Tokyo to return to his home in Korea. The time for me to go there had not yet come. When Mr. Yanagi returned from his visit to Korea I was made happy in receiving from him these words: "Your visit to Abiko gave me indeed great pleasure. Your enthusiastic talk not only directed me to the Bahá'í Revelation, but showed me the depths of your Faith. I received your kind letter and many pamphlets you sent me at Seoul. I hope you will go to Korea as soon as possible. I believe your faith in the Bahá'í Truth is fresh and vital enough for the Korean people because they are now thirsty for true religion."
At that time in Japan many of the Esperanto publications had articles about the Bahá'í Cause which were widely circulated. Thus some Korean Esperantists heard of the Cause and wrote me. In a letter on February 9, 1921 I wrote: "Another part of the Far East which is becoming illumined is Korea. Through the instrument of Esperanto three Koreans have imbibed these Teachings as far as is possible through correspondence. One of them, a literary writer has published in a Korean magazine an article about the Cause dedicated to this servant for her success. These people of Korea are hungering for spiritual food." Two of these Korean friends became subscribers to the Japanese Bahá'í monthly Star of the East.
Doors Open to Korea
After Mr. Oh's return to Korea, although I wrote and sent him Bahá'í literature, no word came from him in reply. More than a year had passed when one morning in the summer of 1921, suddenly I was aware that the time had come for me to take the Bahá'í Message to that virgin land where as yet no Bahá'í had been.
In Korea at that time everything was under strict police surveillance and there was no freedom. How was I a young woman alone to approach that country and give the Bahá'í Message? I know Bahá'u'lláh's instructions to His followers: "In every country or government where any of this community (Bahá'ís) reside, they must behave toward that government with faithfulness, trustfulness." It was necessary first that officially my mission to that country should be known, and that I should have the permission of the government to teach the Cause. Following guidance I first telephoned to a Japanese friend, Mr. Y. Bryan Yamashita who had offered to assist me. He was educated in the United States and had been in diplomatic service. When I telephone him I was going to Korea he said he would come immediately to see me. When he arrived he advised me first to see Viscount Eiichi Shibusawa and consult with him, and he kindly telephoned and made an appointment for me to meet him.
Viscount Eiichi Shibusawa was then eighty-three years old. A noble man who was widely known as a great financier and philanthropist he had started the first modern bank in Japan, and later in Korea and he was honored for his uprighteousness in business. As he was a
On the day which Mr. Yamashita had arranged for me to meet Viscount Shibusawa, I went to his office where I explained to him the purpose of my visit to Korea, and that the Bahá'ís were forbidden to meddle in political affairs. He asked many questions and we talked for an hour and a half through his secretary. I had brought with me the words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá to Miss Fanny Knobloch who went to South Africa to teach which were translated to the Viscount by his secretary. The words are: "It may be that the government of those regions will check thee. Thou shouldst say, 'I am a Bahá'í and a friend with all religions and nations. I consider all to be of one race and count them as my relatives. I have divine love and not racial and sectarian love. According to the palpable written command of Bahá'u'lláh I do not pronounce a word pertaining to politics, because we are forbidden to interfere in political affairs. We are concerned with affairs which are heavenly. We are servants unto the world of morality. We consider that religious, racial, political and national prejudices are destructive to the world of humanity. I believe that the whole of the surface of the earth constitutes one home and all mankind form one family. With all we are in the utmost sincerity and kindness.'"
Viscount Shibusawa was delighted with these words, especially that the Bahá'ís did not interfere in political affairs. To my great surprise, raising his hands he announced with a smile that he would himself give me introductions to the Governor of Korea, and others with whom he was personally acquainted. Then he expressed his admiration that I had come alone to Japan, and had stood alone and taken nothing from anyone. I felt overwhelmed for little had I dreamed of receiving introductions from him. The All-Pervading Power of God was manifest! A few days later a messenger brought me three letters of introduction from Viscount Shibusawa written with his own hand in beautiful Japanese style on long scrolls. One was to the Governor of Korea, another to the head of the Daiichi Bank of Seoul and a third to the head of the same Bank in Pusan. As I did not go to Pusan the letter to Mr. Moriichi Matsumura is still in my possession. Its translation follows:
Tokyo, August 17, 1921
I sent word to my friend, Mr. M. Yanagi of my intended visit to Korea, but learned that he was then there. The evening before I left he returned and came immediately to see me. He gave me his card to Mr. Yamagata, the editor of the only English paper in Korea, the Seoul Press, and he advised me first to confer with him, and then to follow his advice.
In just a week from the time I announced my intention of going to Korea, I was on the train bound for the capital, Seoul. It was a day and night's journey by train to Shimonoseki where one took a steamer across the channel between Japan and the Korean peninsula. Arriving in Korea, or Chosen, as it is called in the Orient, another day's travel by train and Seoul was reached. During the journey I felt as though I were going to my family instead of to a strange country, and I was thrilled with the realization that it was virgin land where the soil was pure and ready for seed sowing. The scene was fascinating; the contour of the land, the mountains, houses and native dress were quite different from other countries. The men wore flowing white linen robes and full trousers tied in at the ankles, and the women were dressed in long plaited skirts and tight short-waisted bodices of bright Korean colors. The civilization of these people dated back before the time of Christ. Their kingdom was called the Hermit Kingdom, because they remained within themselves for hundreds of years. The inspiration for their art and literature came to them through Buddhism from China, and from Korea was taken to Japan. Its day had passed and only a few remnants remained of their former art.
Arrival in Seoul
In the evening I reached the city of Seoul surrounded by hills, and went to the Chosen hotel, the center of the life of the capital and the only hotel for foreign travelers. It was built on the grounds of the Korean Temple of Heaven, which stood behind it, a circular building of beautiful architectural design, adorned with old carvings and interior paintings. In the morning I telephoned to the editor of the Seoul Press, Mr. Yamagata, who came immediately to see me. When I told him I had introductions from Viscount Shibusawa, he asked if he might see one of them. After reading it he was ready to do anything for me and advised me to go the next morning to the government offices and present my introduction to the governor.
In the afternoon a young man, Mr. Kurita came to see me. Mr. Torii, the brother of Kyoto had telegraphed him of my coming. Although deaf he understood English and was so skilled in lip reading that I was not aware of his deafness until he asked if we might change our seats to a lighter place as he was reading my lips. Then I remembered that Mr. Torii had written me of him, that he was an eager Christian, but was attracted to the Bahá'í teachings, and was the first one among the deaf in Japan to be interested in the Cause. After finishing his studies in a school in Tokyo he came to Seoul to
The next morning I called at the government offices. As the governor to whom I had an introduction from Viscount Shibusawa was away, I was presented to the Governor General, Viscount Saito, a distinguished man. After a short conversation in which I presented him with a Japanese Bahá'í booklet, his secretary and two others from the Foreign Relations Department of the government interviewed me. None of these men had ever heard of the Bahá'í Cause. To each one I gave a copy of the Japanese Bahá'í booklet and explained the Bahá'í teaching that one must respect the government of the country where he resides, and therefore I desired to do everything in harmony with the government. Two hours were spent at the government offices that memorable morning. During the time the Chief of Police was communicated with and told of me, and that I should be given freedom to teach in Korea. The power of Bahá'u'lláh was truly manifested! With a light heart free from care I returned to the hotel. Mr. Kurita came again that afternoon with some friends and together we called on the Director of the YMCA, Mr. Hara, to whom I had been given an introduction at the government offices. My one desire then was to find Mr. Oh, the Korean friend I had known in Tokyo, and I asked the aid of Mr. Hara. He said Mr. Oh was living in Seoul, but he did not know the address.
The third morning in Seoul, the Seoul Press had an item telling about my coming to Korea and the purpose of my visit. The same morning I called at the American Consulate and presented my card and mentioned the Cause, that I had the permission of the government to teach in Korea, and left a Bahá'í booklet. Next I went to the First Bank and presented my introduction from Viscount Shibusawa to the manager of the bank. He left his work and for an hour talked with me of spiritual things, and then invited me to come again and also to his home for a Japanese dinner.
When I returned at noon to the hotel, I found a reporter from a Japanese newspaper waiting to see me. He had an introduction from the Governor General's secretary and asked me to accompany him to the office of the newspaper for an interview. There a photograph was taken which appeared the next day in the paper with a picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, the first time that His picture was published in Korea.
In my desire to find Mr. Oh, I turned to the Center of the Covenant and supplicated His assistance. Later Mr. Kurita came with friends to go out with me. As we were riding in a street car, suddenly my hand was grasped. Looking up I saw Mr. Oh. It was a joyful meeting. Then he accompanied me to the hotel. On the way we met several of his Korean friends to whom he introduced me. Then the doors began to open. He not only helped me to open the way for his people to hear the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, but acted as my interpreter and guide. In God's plan it seemed he was destined to be the link through which the Cause reached his people. There was a wisdom why I could not find him until the government connections had been made. I was happy to learn that although he had not written me, he had received everything I sent him from Tokyo.
The next morning Mr. Oh came to accompany me to the office of the leading Korean newspaper, the Dong-a, which was published in the Korean language and script. They published a very good article about the Cause illustrated with pictures of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and the Chicago Temple. The editors of this paper endeavored to publish only true statements and nothing sensational. From that time the Cause was made known to the Korean people. Among callers that afternoon was an official from the Governor General's office, who came to learn something of the Bahá'í teachings. He had recently returned after twelve years spent in study in America.
Mr. Datte from the religious section of the government came to see me the next day. He proved to be a friend as he had lived many years in Hawaii and was acquainted with some of my relatives. We had a long talk and he offered his services to assist me in Seoul. In the afternoon Mr. Kurita gave a tea party for me. Fourteen were present, Japanese ladies, young men, and an American missionary and his wife who were broadminded and whose home I visited several times with Mr. Kurita. The International Friendship Association had a reception for me the next day, inviting me to speak on the Bahá'í Cause. Its members were officials and prominent men of Seoul. Twenty-two were present, three of whom were women who were invited especially for my sake. It was the first time for women to attend the Association. The following day both Japanese and English newspapers had notices of the meeting.
A week passed when His Plan for the opening of the Cause in that land became apparent. In His Plan the highest officials were the first to hear of the Cause, seven of whom had individual talks with me. The next were the editors of the leading newspapers, all of which had individual talks with me. The next were published articles, while the Japanese and Korean papers published the pictures of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and the Chicago Temple. The Seoul Press was small, but on three occasions published something concerning the Cause, twice giving a column to the Bahá'í Teachings. Although the word Bahá'í was new to all these editors in no instance was the least prejudice shown.
I next consulted Mr. Datte, the friend from the Religious section of the government, how I could meet the Korean people and tell them the Glad Tidings. He suggested a Korean society called Chundokyo, or Heavenly Way, as a meeting place. The founder of the society many years ago united Confucianists, Taoists, Buddhists and later Christians joined them. Through Mr. Oh it was arranged for me to meet one of the leaders of the society and after an hour's interview in which Mr. Oh acted as interpreter he said we should unite. A young Buddhist who was also present expressed his delight with the Bahá'í teachings. On September second the first public Bahá'í meeting in Korea was held in the hall of this society. It was arranged with only a day's notice which appeared in the Korean daily. When I reached the meeting place that evening to my great surprise I found it to be a large hall, where before me were hundreds of Koreans seated cross-legged on the matted floor, almost all in their white linen costumes. The men sat on one side, and the women on the other, a small part of the great audience which Mr. Oh estimated to be about nine hundred. He spoke first, and although I did not understand what he said, he seemed inspired. I spoke simply
Several months before going to Korea, Mrs. Kunz of Urbana, Illinois, wrote me of their meeting on the steamer when on their way to Palestine, a Korean Christian who became interested in the Bahá'í teachings and met ‘Abdu'l-Bahá while in Palestine. She added that if I should ever go to Korea, she hoped I would be guided to find him, but did not mention his name. When I enquired of Mr. Oh he said he had met him in Seoul when he returned from his studies and gave me his address in the country where he was staying. I wrote to him and on September first received a reply in which he wrote: "I was glad to hear of your visit to Seoul. Your first visit to this country shall ever remain in the history of the people. The Master ‘Abdu'l-Bahá has given me the very timely message for this generation . . . I pray that you shall ever be under the Divine guidance during these days in order that the work may be started in the right method and direction. I shall call on you soon after my arrival in Seoul."
On September fifth the happy meeting with Mr. Roh took place. As I sat in the hotel lobby that evening young man entered. Without introduction we seemed to know each other. It was Mr. Roh! Almost at the same time Mr. Oh came in to see me. It was an eventful meeting of the three of us. I recognized the great capacity of Mr. Roh. He had studied first in Japan for six years, then spent six more years in study in the United States, where he graduated from Columbia University Seminary, and then Oxford University for another year. When he heard from Prof. and Mrs. Kunz of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá on the steamer to Palestine, he decided to go to Haifa to meet Him, but while at Tiberius he found that ‘Abdu'l-Bahá occupied the room next to his. There the great blessing was conferred on him of several interviews with ‘Abdu'l-Bahá who asked him about his future work and counseled him to teach only from the words of Christ as recorded in the Gospels. Mr. Roh was connected with a Christian mission and taught in a Christian college and a Theological School besides preaching. I urged the two friends to work together and translate a Bahá'í booklet into the Korean language for their people. Mr. Roh said that because of his position he could not work openly. The next day when I was sitting by the side of the Temple of Heaven Mr. Roh appeared unexpectedly and we had another talk, the last one during my first visit in Seoul. Again I urged him to work with Mr. Oh, for it was apparent that this was a Divine plan and would have results.
The manager of the First Bank whom I had met invited me the next afternoon to speak to the clerks of the bank. Although only a few understood English, some seeds were sown. After the talk I was entertained with an American lady teacher who was present, at his home where a sumptuous Japanese feast was served. When I remarked that there were nine present, the host replied that he had planned it so because nine was the Bahá'í number.
On September eighth, (the Bahá'í feast day), I had asked Mr. Oh to arrange for a meeting place where I could give a Bahá'í feast. The lunch room of the Korean YMCA was selected, and Mr. Oh invited his friends who were interested in the Cause, nine of whom came. As only a few understood English, he acted as interpreter. A wonderful spirit was present at that first Bahá'í feast held in Korea. I told those present how at the same time all over the world similar feasts were being held and thus a great world unity was being established. The conversation centered around ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, and the questions asked concerned Him, His station, His daily life and life from childhood. One of the friends asked if He were like Christ, and they appeared to have great capacity for understanding. I asked if they would like to write their sentiments and names to be sent to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá on cards which were passed around. They wrote in the Korean language which Mr. Oh afterwards translated for me. There were nine young men who wrote as follows: "The message of Truth which shines all around the universe." Oh Sang Sun. "The same origin from the first." Secretary Korean YMCA. "Newest voice of Truth." Editor Korean daily. "Long life to the Bahá'í, the fair and impartial." Teacher Christian College. "Various streams running into the same ocean." "Just now I found the brilliant light of Bahá'." "The universal supreme mountain of Truth." "Oh freedom! Oh Bahá'í."
The next evening, September ninth, the young men gave me a Korean feast. As some of those who were present the night before could not come, others took their places. It was a heavenly feast and again those present wrote their names to be sent to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and a photograph was taken. One of the young men who came that night called on me the next day. He said he had stayed up until 2 a.m. that night before reading the Japanese Bahá'í booklet and thinking it over. It was he who later moved to Tokyo where he asked me to teach Esperanto to a group of Chinese students, the result of which was far reaching. (See Chapter V).
An inspiring afternoon was spent at the school where Mr. Oh taught. The school was conducted in an old Buddhist monastery in the suburbs of Seoul, a quiet spot where there was an atmosphere of harmony. The students gathered in the temple hall, the ceiling of which was decorated with beautiful Buddhist designs in bright Korean colors. Mr. Oh introduced me to the students and then translated for me. With my first words I showed the students a picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. As I spoke the expressions of their faces changed, becoming more and more earnest. Was it not a sign of the times that a Western woman and Christian by birth should tell of the Message of a New Day in a Buddhist temple in that far away land! After the meeting I lingered with a few others and the inspiration came to send a greeting to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá from that spot. The students who were present wrote their greetings in Korean, which Mr. Oh translated. He and another teacher wrote in English as follows: "The college students have touched the new spirit and there burned in their hearts wonderful inspiration. This wonderful opportunity was experienced
September tenth is the day when the Koreans remember the dead. Mr. Oh accompanied me to the Chundokyo Society which gave its hall for the public Bahá'í meeting. Then we visited one of its schools where I was invited to speak. As they had no room large enough to accommodate all the students, they stood in the open under the hot sun, while I spoke for ten minutes. Mr. Oh who translated, said he added emphasis to all I said. Afterwards a student came up to me and asked in English if he might come to see me. He came later with two friends from his home town in the North where he had seen a Japanese Bahá'í booklet. He had been educated in a mission school and was eager to procure Bahá'í books and learn more about the Cause.
The last meeting with the Korean friends was on September seventeenth, in the Korean YMCA. Mr. Oh spoke first addressing me. Then I urged the friends to meet each week and study the Teachings and left some Bahá'í literature with Mr. Oh to form the nucleus of a Bahá'í library. Mr. Oh's devotion in assisting me to give the Bahá'í Message to his people was worthy of a thousand thanks. During all those days nothing had come in our path to hinder the spread of His Cause in that land.
On September eighteenth, the last day in Seoul, it was my privilege to distribute among the poor Korean patients in the Severance hospital, nineteen bouquets of flowers. This I did in the Master's Name and the joy which came in the faces of the patients was a pleasure to witness.
The morning of September nineteenth, I left Seoul to return to Tokyo. I realized that the years spent in Japan had been the preparation for the work in Korea, for the knowledge of Japan, and the connections made while living there, opened the way to Korea. During the month in Seoul His power had been triumphant. All the doors had been opened. Japanese and Koreans, both Buddhists and Christians had heard the Bahá'í Message and were now free to search themselves. It could not be said they had been forgotten in God's great plan for the New Day.
Last Tablets From ‘Abdu'l-Bahá
In Tokyo I received a letter from Mr. Fujita written from the Tomb of the Báb on November 1921, in which he wrote: "This morning I am going to write you just a short note to thank you for the letter and supplications from the Korean friends in the Buddhist College. The Master has written a very long Tablet to the Friends in Korea which you soon will receive."
The unexpected happened and the Beloved Master left us three weeks after Mr. Fujita wrote me. On the morning of February 14, 1922, in Tokyo, two Tablets revealed by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá reached me, which were His last eternal messages to be sent to the Far East. One Tablet was to me and the other was addressed, "To the new friends of Korea," dated November 5, 1921. Fifteen names were mentioned of those who sent their message to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá when I was in their land. In reply to the Beloved Master poured out His love and compassion to these young men in words which will forever bless that land. The Tablet follows:
Through Miss Agnes Alexander, To the new friends of Korea: — Sang Sun Oh, U.U. Cuan, Kinng S. Ko, Chy Rin, Inki Hong, Pyung C. Lee, Soon Y. Lee, Wen H. Ma, Young N. Pyeur, Chan Young Kim, Agnes Alexander, Z.Y. Roe, So. Wo Kloon S.Y. Zee, Ze Kyung Sang, and S.T. Suh.
The other Tablet, dated November 7, 1921, addressed to me, follows:
O thou who proclaimest the Kingdom of God. Thy received and gave much joy. Praise be to God that the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abhá reached and thou becamest the cause of the guidance of the souls. It is my hope that in Korea thou wilt raise the banner of the Greatest Guidance. Convey my utmost kindness to Mr. Roh. I have utmost love for him and ask for him Heavenly blessings. Upon thee be the Glory of the Most Glorious.
In June, 1923, Mr. H.C. Waung, the Chinese student who translated the Bahá'í booklet into Chinese, went to China for a visit. He carried some Bahá'í booklets for Mr. Oh and on the way stopped in Seoul and met the Korean friends. He wrote me that they entertained him, and they had a happy time exchanging ideas concerning the present age.
After my return to Japan from Korea in 1921, no word came to me from the friends there. It was not until two years later, in October, 1923, after the great earthquake in Japan, that I stopped in Seoul on the way to join Martha Root in Peiping, and again met some of the Korean friends. My sister Miss Mary C. Alexander, was with me and we spent a few days in Seoul. It was a joy to meet again Mr. Oh, who was teaching in a small Buddhist college in the city. He arranged for me to speak to the young men of the college on October nineteenth, when a photograph was taken. I had brought with me a large framed photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and a painting of the Greatest Name done by Auntie Victoria, which I left at the college with Mr. Oh. These appear in the photograph taken that day. (See Bahá'í Year Book page 122).
When Mr. Roh came to see me, I found him changed in appearance, as he had been ill. He it was who met ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in Tiberius, and to whom ‘Abdu'l-Bahá sent His "utmost love" in a Tablet addressed to me, already quoted. He realized that time was quickly passing and his desire to serve his people had not been accomplished. At the Christian College where he was teaching he had told some of his students of the Bahá'í Teachings. One of these, an ardent Esperantist came to see me. For his given name, he had taken the Esperanto word, Espero. He was most enthusiastic about the Bahá'í Teachings and later in Peiping I received an eager letter from him written on November seventh, in which he wrote: "Mi tre amas Baháismo kaj me propagandas gian ismon al mia kolegiaj sam-lernantoj. . . . Paciganta Angelino, estu ciam sanegai! Kiel eble plej tuje vi reveturu al mia lando, mi helpos vin, certe me helpos vin."
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Seoul, Korea, September 1921. Miss Alexander is sitting at the end of the table. These young men were among those who wrote their names to be sent to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. He sent them back a Tablet — the only one addressed to Koreans.
Another Korean Esperantist also wrote me on November twelfth: "Nun mi skribas pri Baháismo titolita 'La religio do homaramo,' kaj mi kredas gi farigos pli el 50 pagoj. Kaj se mi finos gin, tuj aperigos en la jurnalo nomita "Dong-a," kiu estas la plej bona en nia lando. . . . Sajnas al mi, ke en nia lando multaj geamikoj havas kortusojn por Baháismo."
These were the last messages to come to me from that land which had received ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's great blessing. In the future a brighter day may dawn for those people, when the world conflict will have passed, and the day of Divine Justice will reign in the world.
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Miss Martha Root is holding a picture of Mr. Torii's son. Mr. Torii is sitting next to her and Mrs. Torii is behind him. Taken in 1937.
In the spring of 1925, through Divine guidance, a little home in Manoa Valley in Honolulu came into my possession. There I was free to teach His Cause and often entertained friends whom I wished to attract to the Faith. In the fall of 1926, I went to California, remaining there for six months, I returned to Honolulu on March 20, 1927. There on May sixth, came the first intimation from the beloved Guardian that he wished me to go again to Japan. It came most unexpectedly in powerful dynamic words. The letter was dated Haifa, April 2, 1927. In the Guardian's writing were the words:
My dear co-worker: I long to hear of your determination to return to Japan and pick up the thread of your unsparing efforts and activities for the promotion of the Cause of God. I feel that your destiny lies in that far-off and promising country where your noble and pioneer services future generations will befittingly glorify and thankfully remember. May the Beloved remove every obstacle from your path and enable you to resume your active work in that land. Shoghi
In the meantime the Institute of Pacific Relations held their second Conference in Honolulu in the summer of 1927, and I was able to contact, not only Japanese delegates to the Conference, but a Korean young woman, and also a Chinese woman delegate whose brother, Mr. Liu of Canton, was a Bahá'í (See Star of the West Vol. XVIII, pages 212-216).
Dr. Shiroshi Nasu of the Tokyo Imperial University, who first heard of the Cause from Roy Wilhelm, in West Englewood, New Jersey, was a delegate to the Conference, and I showed him the letter I had received from Shoghi Effendi. On his return to Japan, he wrote me, "As our steamer nears Yokohama, Fuji San is in sight. This is the symbol of our welcome to you! Come to Japan!"
On August 22, 1927, another beautiful letter came from the beloved Guardian:
Haifa, July 16, 1927
Dr. George Jacob Augur, our dear Bahá'í brother who had served the Cause faithfully, passed to his reward on September 14, 1927, in Honolulu. The following day, seeking guidance, I decided upon the date of January 10, 1928, to sail for Japan, as I could get passage then. Knowing the conditions existing in Japan, I was fully aware that my path would not be easy, but with His assurance and the glorious words of the Guardian I could leave all in God's hands. Again on November eighth, I was reinforced by the beloved Guardian in another letter.
Haifa, October 12, 1927
After the ascension of the Master I began collecting His Tablets to Japanese living in Japan, in order to have them published and preserved for future times. In answer
Haifa, October 22, 1927
On November twenty-eighth, another precious message came to me from the beloved Guardian:
Before sailing for Japan, I called on Governor Wallace R. Farrington. He was a man of high principles, and as he had known my family for many years, he gave me a very fine letter of introduction which bore the seal of the Territory of Hawaii. In it he mentioned my interest in the Bahá'í Faith and commended me to all government officials wherever I might journey.
Return to Japan
There were only a few passengers on the voyage to Japan and the ocean was stormy. I found opportunity, though, to give the Bahá'í Message to an American woman who was married to a Filipino and was going with him to his home in Manila. Another passenger, whom I spoke to of the Cause was a young Japanese. He had already heard of it in Geneva where he had met Martha Root. When the steamer docked in Yokohama, the dear young man, Susumu Aibara, came to meet me. He had graduated from Keio University and was then working in the Tokyo Branch of the League of Nations office. At the steamer I received a letter from an American friend living in Tokyo, who advised me to go the Sakurai house there where a room had been prepared for me. It was the house I had stayed in when I arrived in Tokyo in November, 1914, and it was there that the Bahá'í meetings were first held in Japan. In a humble little room I settled with all my baggage. I was grateful to the kind friend and the bright sunshine which entered the room. Yuri Mochizuki, who had spent three years in France since we had met, soon came to see me.
Soon after my arrival I called on the editor of the American newspaper The Japan Advertiser, Mr. Benjamin Fleischer. We had a talk along spiritual lines and the next day a very kind notice appeared in the paper about my return to Tokyo and the Bahá'í Cause, in which it was stated that as a Bahá'í I received nothing for my service.
Then I called on the American Ambassador, Mr. McVeagh, and showed him the letter I carried from Governor Farrington of Honolulu. When I offered to present him with a Bahá'í booklet, to my surprise he said he did not need it for he already knew about the Teachings and had entertained ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in his summer home in Dublin, New Hampshire. It was in Mrs. Agnes Parsons' home there that he had met ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. He not only invited me to a tea party at his home to meet his wife, but offered to do anything he could to help me. When I met Mrs. McVeagh, she seemed to be greatly impressed that in Tokyo she should meet an American woman Bahá'í who was there teaching the Cause. She was an intimate friend of Mrs. Parsons, whom she called
When I left Japan after the great earthquake of 1923, all was destruction. On my return I found a great change had taken place in the reconstruction which had gone forward daily, and Tokyo and Yokohama were being built up again into modern cities. This modern Japan had been called a country of light because of the rapid extension of electricity to all parts of its Empire. A spiritual change was also taking place.
In a letter to the friends on March 4, 1928, I wrote: "c/o Sakurai, 31 Nichome Fujimicho, Kudan, Tokyo. Perhaps you might be interested to know the meaning of the above address. 'Ni' is two and 'Chome' is block. 'Fuji' is the sacred mountain. 'Mi' is to see, and 'Cho' is street, so it means the street where one can see Mt. Fuji. 'Ku' is nine, and 'dan' is steps. It is above the nine steps, and here it was that I came when I first arrived in Tokyo, and where the first meetings were held and the first student wrote to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. That was in November, 1914, though it was the following spring when Mr. Fukuta, the young student saw the Light of this Day. I had never expected to be back here again, but as it was His guidance, it must be His bounty.
"Six weeks have passed and now I feel more adjusted to the change of life, and also to a new Tokyo since the great earthquake of 1923. The inner joy too has come which alone is through His love.
"On the twenty-fourth, I was asked to speak at the Pan-Pacific luncheon on the Bahá'í Movement. This, I am sure, came through the letter which Mr. Ford gave me to the Director here in which he mentioned my connection with the Bahá'í Movement, and also of the Bahá'í table at the weekly luncheon in Honolulu . . . Before going to the luncheon, I followed Martha Root's way of writing out a talk, keeping as near as I could to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's words, and then, when the luncheon was over, I gave it to the two newspaper men, that is, the two English papers, and so of course it was correctly reported. The morning Advertiser published a column, and the evening paper the principles, so now we can feel that all the English reading people know something of our Movement in this Far East, and we know it was only His assistance which brought it about. The luncheons here are quite formal and are presided over by a Viscount. In introducing me he said that he did not know what the Bahá'í Movement was, but afterwards spoke very kindly and said he also believed in the principle of the oneness of religions at their foundations, and then, turning to me he added that he hoped the Movement would have success here.
"The League of Nations Association of Japan which has 10,000 members, is publishing an article on the Movement with ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's picture, in their publication, so it will reach 10,000 persons all over Japan. To my great surprise they sent me a check for the article. Instead of returning the money to them, I have put it into a year subscription to the Star of the West and some Bahá'í books for their library here . . .
"Yuri Mochizuki is translating the booklet, What is the Bahá'í Movement? into Japanese and I hope to publish 2,000 of these.
"On February nineteenth, I had the joy of receiving a message from Shoghi Effendi, which was forwarded from Honolulu and was dated December thirtieth. That it is a relief to him, and that it gives him hope and pleasure, can only be a joy to me that I can be permitted the Bounty of being here to work."
Haifa, Dec. 30, 1927
Dr. R. Masujima
In Honolulu in 1924, a Pan-Pacific Food Conference was held which was attended by Dr. R. Masujima, an international lawyer. His address at the conference, which was published, had the spirit of the Bahá'í Teachings. I quoted from this in an article for the Star of the West (See Vol. XV, page 207), and later sent him a copy of the magazine. He wrote in reply that he had already heard of the Bahá'í Cause from some American friends. On my return to Tokyo, I met him and was invited by him to a garden party which he gave on March twenty-first. In a letter, April twenty-second, I wrote: "On March twenty-first, there was held a Garden Party here given by Dr. Masujima in his garden. He is the Chairman of the Good Relations Club of Tokyo, which is one of the Pan-Pacific clubs started by Alexander Hume Ford, the Director in Honolulu. Dr. Masujima is a friend of the Bahá'ís. He likes the Teachings which he heard from Mrs. Cook (Mrs. Inez Greven) and her sister in New York. He also knows Mountfort Mills. March twenty-first is a national holiday here. It may be called 'the day of ancestor worship,' and in Japanese is 'O Higan'. Dr. Masujima did not know it was the Bahá'í New Year day when he invited me to his party on that day. It was a most beautiful day and there were gathered about
"Two members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom were here on their way from China to America, Miss Pye (English) and Mme Drevet (French). Miss Pye was wearing a beautiful Bahá'í ring. She told me she was not a Bahá'í, but Mrs. White, mother of Sir Frederick White, had put it on her finger and told her it would help her. This especially interested me, as Sir Frederick White headed the English delegation at the Institute of Pacific Relations in Honolulu last summer.
"Easter Sunday, April sixth, was also this year Buddha's birthday. On that day it was my privilege to give the Bahá'í Message to some students of the School for the Blind here. Among them were two who spoke Esperanto fluently. There is in Tokyo now a group of young women Esperantists. One of them attended the Japanese Esperanto Convention held in Osaka. It is the first time for a young woman in Japan to attend such a Convention. She also spoke in some of the sessions, although not on the program. The young women Esperantists here in Tokyo have a conversational meeting one Sunday afternoon in each month to which I go and hope some of them will become interested in our Bahá'í Cause. One of them asked me questions at the last meeting."
Dr. Masujima remained a staunch friend of the Cause during the following years I spent in Japan, but did not become a declared follower. For three years the Bahá'ís held their Naw-Rúz gathering in his lovely Japanese garden in Tokyo, and on several occasions they met in his law library building in the garden, where also Bahá'í talks were given to the law students from Keio University who gathered there once a week.
In May, three students from the University of Hawaii came to Japan on a Good Will Tour to take part in a debating contest with students from the Universities of Tokyo. The three students were of Chinese, Japanese and Anglo-Saxon origin. I had a short visit with them and told them of the Bahá'í Cause, giving each a Bahá'í booklet in English. I also gave the Japanese student, one in Japanese, the Chinese, one in Chinese, and the Anglo-Saxon, one in Esperanto. The young men listened most sincerely to me and I hoped the seed would sometime blossom. (See Star of the West Vol. XIX, page 156).
On May sixteenth I wrote a friend: "Last week I had the joy of a message from our Guardian. From his words I can know that he has the insight to know and understand conditions . . . Apparently things are not moving fast here, but after all it is the Spirit and the power of the Covenant which alone can move the hearts and there are conditions here which are not a help, but we know that in time all will be clear. The Tablet of Ahmad is indeed wonderful to read!"
The letter follows:
Haifa, March 13, 1928
All Japanese Religions Conference
The next event of spiritual importance in Japan was the Japanese Religions Conference, held in June in Tokyo in commemoration of the Enthronement Ceremonies of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. From the prospectus of the Conference the following is taken: "Japan has an historic record of the creation of a new culture through the cooperation of the three religions, namely Shintoism, Confucianism and Buddhism under the patronage and guidance of Prince Shotoku. The history of religions in this country is unique in its display of a magnanimous spirit of one religion toward another . . . Buddhism, the glory of oriental civilization has attained its highest development in this country; and
The fifteen hundred delegates who gathered for the Conference included Buddhists, Christians, Shintoists and others. The evening of the second day, a dinner was held where a wonderful spirit of brotherly love prevailed. Rev. Kozaki, the presiding officer, spoke of the Parliament of Religions which convened in Chicago during the Columbia Exposition of 1893, which he had attended, and how he had since witnessed the development of the spirit of cooperation of all religions both in Japan and the world at large. It was at the Parliament of Religions that the Bahá'í Message was first heard of in America. Three foreigners were invited to speak that evening. One was a Christian minister from Canada, another a German missionary resident of Tokyo and myself, the only woman who spoke that night. In a letter I wrote, June twentieth: "On June 5-8 there was held here in Tokyo the first National Religions Conference of Japan composed of Buddhists, Shintoists, Christians and others. Through His power I was invited to be a member of the Conference and to speak a few words the evening of the 'get together' banquet. Everything was in Japanese and although I know enough to get along here, I could not understand the speeches. It alone, though, was a great sight to see the fifteen hundred delegates of that assembly. The night of the banquet there were fifteen speakers. Without the language one could sense the wonderful spirit of the meeting. When my turn came, the director, who himself interpreted for me, asked me to speak two minutes. As I arose the audience did not know where to look, for I had been sitting at one end of the room, and the director had come over to be near to me. He then said, 'Koko,' meaning 'here,' and all eyes turned and Bahá'u'lláh guided the words which were spoken. His name was mentioned and His words, 'Ye are all the leaves of one tree . . .' and the words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, 'Religions are many but the reality of religion is one. The days are many but the sun is one . . . ' (Promulgation of Universal Peace Vol. I, pg. 122). There was a great response shown to His words . . . The next day the members of the Conference were invited to visit the Imperial Gardens of Shinjuku, which are only opened on rare occasions. When I went to the Conference Hall, on the steps I met the German minister who had spoken in Japanese the night before. His first words to me were of the great impression the words (which had been put into my mouth) had made the night before. From the Conference hall the members walked to the gardens, about a mile distant. It seemed like a pilgrimage, the members walking in files of twos and threes. During the walk I was enabled to speak of the Bahá'í Revelation to the German minister and to a Canadian missionary who interpreted for the only other English speaking person that night. The missionary had been in Japan twenty-three years, and he also spoke to me of the impressiveness of the (His) words of the night before. It was all together a wonderful demonstration of His power and I thanked my Lord for all His goodness and assistance to this servant. Every word spoken at the Conference is recorded, so His great words go down in the history of this first independent all-religions conference in Japan. In the past the government has tried once or twice to have such a conference, but this one came from the people themselves and was entirely independent."
From the Conference greetings were sent to religious associations throughout the world. In reply to his greeting, Shoghi Effendi expressed keen interest in the work of the Association and the assurance of his hope for its success.
In another letter I wrote: "A source of great happiness to me this last week has been the receiving of a letter from Haifa from a lady who left here in March on her way to the United States by way of Europe. She has spent most of her life in Japan and is a great friend of the people. She is very open-minded and has known of the Bahá'í Cause for many years. Before she left Japan, I wrote in her address book names of Effie Baker and Mr. Fujita, Haifa, Pilgrim House. Then I left it to His guidance, thinking that if it was the right time for her to go there, the way would open. She did not even then know whether she, and the companion she was traveling with, would stop in Palestine. Before her visit to Haifa, she had written a friend here about Jerusalem and called it, 'the city of hate,' for she wrote the people of the different religions and sects there, although all praying, were hating each other. Here is what she writes me from Haifa. 'Here I am . . . . in the guest house of the Bahá'ís. It is a palace and house of rest and peace. The best possible hospitality and you may imagine how delighted I was to find Fujita San here. We have just been having a good talk about our dear Japan. Miss Baker, or Effie, as she is called, is a wonderful little hostess. I should like to spend weeks with her and Fujita San. She has explained many things to me. To be met with an open hand at the door, a cheery welcome is certainly a blessing in this far away land. Palestine is beautiful but very different from Japan . . . . Here the East and West are housed under an American roof. It looks like unity does it not? . . . Your good name opened the doors wide for us.'
"Once a week I have been going to Waseda University English Speaking Society for their noon hour conversation lesson. It is a source of joy to me . . . I think of the words which Shoghi Effendi once wrote me, 'I will pray that you will be guided by our dear Master who loved you so dearly and wanted you so keenly to train and guide the rising generation in Japan into the light of this divine Revelation.' And of course these words give me great inspiration just to know that I am doing His will.
"The Esperanto students of Waseda University, Keio University and Medical College have all invited me to be a guest at their meetings and a most beautiful spirit has been felt. One cannot help but love these students who are striving for these universal aims.
"I now have a sitting room here of my own and pray that His love will be felt here. It is the very room where in 1915, I entertained Martha Root on her first journey around the world, and where many happy Bahá'í meetings were held in the past when I lived in Japan the first time. This is my third visit to Japan and each time it has only been through His direction that I have come here to work."
During the summer of 1928, I went to Lake Nojiri. I
Messages from Shoghi Effendi
The beloved Guardian continually sent reinforcements to me in his precious letters, which were the joy and strength of my heart, as follows:
Haifa, Mar. 29, 1928This precious letter reached me in Tokyo on Christmas day, 1928.
In the fall of 1928, I suddenly discovered that the young women's Esperanto group which I had been attending each month was held in the home of Communists. Because of conditions existing in Japan at that time, Communism had spread, especially among the youth and many students were imprisoned. I was myself watched by the police, as well as those who came to see me, although I was striving to eliminate the cause of
There was at that time in Japan a religion called Oomoto, which had rapidly spread throughout the country. The head of the religion was regarded by the followers as a Manifestation of God. They used Esperanto in their propaganda. In their publications they had taken some of the Bahá'í principles and teachings and published them as their own. In regard to these conditions in Japan, I wrote the beloved Guardian. In a letter from him dated December 21, 1928, were these words in his own hand:
My dear and valued co-worker:
In a letter dated February 14, 1929, I wrote: "Since the New Year has dawned it seems more and more that a Divine Wisdom is working to draw all the Bahá'ís of the world into a closer love and unity than before. With the coming of this New Year, hope and inspiration have come that His Cause may make greater progress in this land where Shoghi Effendi has bid me work.
"It has brought joy to me that on the ninth of this month the Bahá'í booklet called No. 9 Ben in Esperanto Braille was finished in a school for the blind here. This was a reprint of one which had been made in Stockstund, Sweden, through the efforts of Martha Root. Often on Sunday evening I had the privilege of meeting with students from this school at the home of one of their teachers (Keiji Sawada) who desires for them spiritual comfort.
"Since the New Year, on Friday evening many Esperantists have been coming to my room where we speak of the Bahá'í Teachings. One of these young men had corresponded with an American lady Esperantist who is a Bahá'í and had sent him one of the Bahá'í Esperanto booklets.
"On the ninth of this month there was held the second oratorical Esperanto meeting of medical and pharmacist students of Tokyo, and for the first time, young women from a women's medical college took part with the young men.
"In December for twenty nights Esperanto lessons were given over the radio here where there are 10,000 listeners, so in this land Esperanto is well known and understood, and it is of the greatest help in contacting those who have the capacity for the Message of Bahá'u'lláh.
"Whatever we do in striving to attain to the wishes which ‘Abdu'l-Bahá with His great love left to us, we cannot help but reap great benefits for the Cause of God, and hasten the day of 'the Most Great Peace.'
"Among the members of the Imperial Academy, the highest educational association in Japan, there are three Esperantists. A few years ago this body sent their approval of Esperanto being accepted as the universal language, to similar groups of educationalists in other countries, but their approval was not accepted by the others.
"In meeting strangers here, a joy has come many times when I have had occasion to tell them of my purpose in this country. Often they tell me that they had heard of the Cause in their homes in America and the
"In the January number of one of a Japanese women's magazines. I was able to publish an article on, 'Showa a New Era for Japanese Women.' 'Showa' is the name given to the present Emperor's reign and means 'bright peace,' so this should be a great era!"
In a letter of February seventeenth, I wrote: "Thing have changed here very much, that is, my work, and I realize more the reason why Shoghi Effendi wrote me he could not exaggerate the importance, nay the urgent necessity of my return here. He also told me not to be disheartened at first with trials and obstacles in His Path. So the way was plain. Since coming here I have had the blessing of five messages from him. He knows the needs and his words help and inspire me always to strive more. Most of my work seems to be through the Esperantists."
Mr. Keiji Sawada, who was a student at the Government School for the Blind in Tokyo when I first met him during my second stay in Japan, had since graduated and become a teacher in the school. He had a little Japanese home and a woman who cared for it. It was there I often spoke to the students of the Blind School whom Mr. Sawada invited to meet me, and through his kindness the lives of several students were brightened with spiritual light. God's bounty to me was the love He put into my heart for these blind friends, and my greatest joy was in sharing with them His blessings to me.
At the time of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan's coronation in the fall of 1928, through the suggestion of Dr. R. Masujima, seven especially bound volumes of Bahá'í books were sent from American Bahá'ís as a gift to him. When the books reached Tokyo, the coronation ceremonies had already taken place in Kyoto, and the presentation of the books was delayed. On May twenty-second, Dr. Masujima received a letter from the Minister of the Imperial Household, stating that the seven books, which were named, had been presented to His Imperial Majesty on that day. Accompanying the books were these words from Shoghi Effendi.
May the perusal of Bahá'í literature enable Your Imperial Majesty to appreciate the sublimity and penetrative power of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation and inspire you on this auspicious occasion to arise for its worldwide recognition and triumph.
In June and July messages came from the beloved Guardian as follows:
Haifa, April 19, 1929
In the message of June 15, 1929, he wrote in part:
The news we receive from the different parts of the world are mostly very encouraging, and definitely show how the Master's hand is constantly helping us and furthering His Cause.And in the Guardian's handwriting: With the assurance of my continued prayers for the success of your unsparing and constant efforts for the spread of our beloved Cause, Your true brother, Shoghi
During the summer I made the pilgrimage to Mt. Fuji (See Star of the West, Vol. XX, page 285).
In October I went to Kyoto, where the Institute of Pacific Relations was holding its third Conference, and through the kindness of my cousin, Mr. Wallace M. Alexander, who was one of the Directors, I received a badge admitting me to the general meetings of the Conference. There I had the joy of sharing the Bahá'í Message with my cousin's daughter. (See Star of the West Vol. XX, page 311). On the return to Tokyo, I stopped in Tsu Shi, Mie Ken, and spent the weekend at the home of the beloved friends, Mr. and Mrs. Tokujiro Torii. It was several years since we had met and the boy, Akira was twelve years old. Mr. Torii invited Esperantists and other friends from neighboring towns to meet me on Sunday and hear of the Bahá'í Cause. It was a very happy and blessed visit.
In January, 1930, I wrote a friend: "Conditions are very different here from former times, but I am only here because it is our Guardian's wish, — it is not of my will, but His." It was a great bounty God granted me to serve His Cause in that land. On February twentieth, a precious message came from the Center of our Faith:
Haifa, Dec. 31st, 1929
Sincerely in His service, Soheil Afnan
I was rejoiced to have the Cause strengthen in Tokyo by two new friends. One of them, Rev. Sempo Ito, was a Christian minister whom Mr. Keiji Sawada met and introduced to me. He became a devoted member of our Bahá'í group and greatly assisted us in the spread of the Cause. The other friend was an American woman who was married to a Japanese, Mrs. Antionette Naganuma. Her sister, Mrs. Emma Smith, was a Bahá'í and knew of the Cause, but it was not until she was ill, that she sent for me. My heart was rejoiced to find her. She taught several evenings a week, English conversation in the YMCA night school, and once when she was ill I was asked to take her place. This opened a new door for me to spread His Cause among the students, and afterwards during the time I remained in Tokyo, they continued to call on me whenever a substitute was needed. It was a cause of great joy to me, I always went with a prayer and for His sake. Many evenings were spent there when the students ask me to speak of the Cause. The directors of the school, who were Japanese, showed no prejudice toward Cause, and on one occasion I was asked to speak of Bahá'í Faith during the fifteen minute chapel time. The English speaking Club of the YMCA also many times welcomed me to speak in their meetings, thus I felt the stones of the building must vibrate with His Message.
Another source of joy and inspiration was the noon meeting of the Waseda University English Speaking Club, where at different times I went once a week. There also the Cause was often spoken of and once the students asked me to tell them about Bahá'u'lláh. They were very lovable. Their lives were simple and they were eager for knowledge.
In a letter dated January 5, 1930, Shoghi Effendi wrote in part:
He sincerely hopes that you will leave a wonderful group of Bahá'ís in that land. Once they come to appreciate the futility of mere material progress and come to desire a spiritual impetus they will see that the source of all inspiration in this day is Bahá'u'lláh and His teachings. Shoghi Effendi hopes that Mrs. Naganuma will be of inestimable help to you.
In a letter of January 16, 1930, which was received in on February twenty-seventh, Shoghi Effendi wrote in part:
I would urge you, above everything to arrange for the translation into Japanese of Esslemont'sBahá'u'lláh and the New Era. I feel it of the utmost importance that such a book should be translated and printed at present.
From that day I began to strive to fulfill the Guardian's wishes. The history of the efforts put forth to have Esslemont book translated as the Guardian wished would make a long story, but in the end it was fulfilled. The beloved Guardian sent me many messages in regard to the translation. On April 11, 1930, he wrote:
My dear Bahá'í sister, I am delighted with the news you give me regarding the translation of Dr. Esslemont's book into Japanese. I will pray for your guidance and success. I long to hear that it has been accomplished. This would constitute yet another jewel on the crown of your life-long service to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.
On March twenty-first, some of the Japanese friends sent a greeting to the Guardian, which he answered as follows:
Haifa, April 18th, 1930
On June fifteenth, I was invited by some Esperantist students to a boys' private preparatory school, the Seikei Gakuyen, in the suburbs of Tokyo. A group of students of the school had arranged an Esperanto program and I was asked to take part in it. The program opened with songs sung by the Esperanto group of the school followed by a talk given by Dr. Asaiiro Oka, an enthusiastic Esperantist and a member of the Imperial Academy of Japan, the highest educational body in that country. His subject was, "The International Age," which he described as the age in which we were living and he spoke of the necessity at this time for an international language.
I took for my subject the name of the era of the present Emperor of Japan, "Showa," that is, "bright peace," and told of the Bahá'í Cause and how we could attain peace through the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. A photograph which was taken of the Esperanto group that afternoon brought honor to the school, as it was published in three Bahá'í publications. (See Star of the West Vol. XXI, page 201, also Bahá'í World Vol. III, page 27).
In the summer I attended the annual Japanese Esperanto
The last of September I went to Shanghai to meet Martha Root, (see Chapter V). In October, on my return from there, at Nagasaki I was met by some Esperantists and spent part of a day with them while the steamer was in port. It happened to be a holiday in the city and a group of Esperantists gathered to meet me. Wherever I met with the Esperantists a brotherly spirit was felt. Many Bahá'í seeds were sown that day. The friends accompanied me to the steamer and gave me a grand farewell which attracted some of the passengers. I returned to Tokyo because of the urgency of attending to the translation of Esslemont's book which was then being made for the second time. I found the translator was not satisfactory and again it was necessary to find another translator. Shoghi Effendi I feel was fully aware of the many difficulties which came in my path and he continually sent his loving messages of encouragement. I was ready to give my life that it might be done satisfactorily. Through His assistance a third translator was found, but after he had commenced the work, suddenly an opportunity presented itself for him to go abroad and the translation was left unfinished.
Through Mr. Sempo Ito, a Bahá'í meeting was arranged at the home of a Japanese dressmaker, Miss Keiko Eito, on the fifteenth day of each month. Miss Eito had young women living in her home who assisted her in making kimonos, but on the fifteenth of the month work was put aside. Mr. Ito interpreted for me and many happy meetings were held in that humble Japanese home. It was there that I met an enlightened Buddhist priest who later arranged for a meeting in his temple. Miss Eito's home was also blessed by the presence of dear Martha Root and also Keith Ransom-Kehler, when they came to Tokyo.
Martha Root's Third Visit to Japan
On October twenty-seventh, beloved Martha Root reached Japan and came to stay with me in Tokyo for two months. During that time her days were filled with selfless work for His Cause. She gave many talks to the students in the schools of Tokyo. They seemed to be the ones whom we could reach and were ready to listen to His Message. Martha spoke to the YMCA English Speaking Club, where she had been invited to speak on her two previous visits to Tokyo; to the law student from Keio University at Dr. Masujima's law library; at a girls' private school, which opened the way afterward for me to teach Esperanto to the girls once a week during a school term. Martha also spoke at the Commercial University and to a club of young women who had attended schools in the United States. This was a very impressive meeting. Some of the young women seemed greatly attracted to the Cause and asked questions. At a meeting of ministers, Martha told of the Cause, and at a public gathering held in the hall of Japanese newspaper which advertised the meeting. Besides Martha several others spoke that evening among them Yuri Mochizuki and myself. Martha also spoke at the Pan-Pacific luncheon held in the Imperial Hotel. The crowning event of her visit was the talk she gave over the Tokyo radio station JOAK on, "The Progress of the Bahá'í Movement in the Five Continents." She read her talk in English which was translated into Japanese. Afterwards it was published in the Japan Times. The radio station paid its speakers, but as Bahá'ís do not accept money, they presented Martha instead with a beautiful bolt of rainbow colored silk. She succeeded in getting much Bahá'í publicity in the newspapers. In Persia she had been given a copy of some of the Holy Writings written in Persian script in the form of a beautiful bird, and also a small Persian rug. Through the assistance of Dr. R. Masujima these were sent to the Minister of the Imperial Household to be presented to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
When Martha sailed from Yokohama on her way to the United States the last of December, the beloved brother, Tokujiro Torii, came alone from Kyoto to see her at the steamer. He was guided by the Divine hand to come, and through His assistance reached the steamer half an hour before it sailed. It was the first time these beloved Bahá'ís met, and a blessed half hour was spent together. The friends who had come to bid Martha farewell, gathered in her stateroom where prayers were said. Martha took from her baggage a small carved wooden box, which had been given her by relatives of the Báb in Shiraz, Persia, and gave it to Mr. Torii. He greatly treasured it and placed his Tablets from the Master in it.
When Martha sailed away, Mr. Torii went to visit his sister in Atami. A day or two later, he sent me from there spiritually fragrant letters written in English Braille to Martha, the beloved Guardian and myself. These I transcribed into writing. To me he wrote: "Dearest spiritual mother! For the first time in this New Year I am writing you with my hearty prayer that this New Year may be happier for you and for the Cause in Japan than ever . . . Now the people of Japan are seeking for truth more profoundly than ever, although on the other hand they are running madly after material civilization. The soil is fertile and seeds of light fall in our hands. Showers of bounty are in torrents — spring is coming! But alas, how few sowers there are! However, dear mother, Japan is the promised land for you to stay, you know. I wish you would die in this land for us! Please do not think to return to Hawaii. Of course I know you have no plan of your own, but God's. It is my prayer to study English and Esperanto more and more fully and translate the Bahá'í literature into Japanese. I know that is my life-giving work. I pray the time will come and my prayer will be fulfilled for I believe that the right prayer will always surely be heard . . . Songs of waves at the near seashore remind me of Miss Root on the ocean, whom I met for the first and last, but I felt the fragrance of Abhá and found love and peace which shines through her. It is my great regret that I could not have much time to be with her, but praise God, He gave me that unforgettable hour. Everything was made clear in my way that day and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá guided me to the ship without uneasiness in my heart. I could really understand the words, 'Trust in Him and He will guide you.'"
On January 10, 1931, an enlightened Buddhist priest, Rev. J. Mori, opened his temple for a public meeting and invited Rev. Sempo Ito, a Universalist minister, who had accepted the Bahá'í Faith, and myself to speak on the Cause. It was indeed a great event
The Japanese Esperanto magazine, Orienta Revuo, published a review of Lidia Zamenhof's Esperanto translation of Dr. Esslemont's book which I wrote for them. It was translated into Japanese and published together with a picture of Lidia. At that time I was teaching Esperanto in a girls' private school once a week, and at the Chinese YMCA twice a week, which helped to spread His Cause.
On Naw-Rúz Dr. Masujima kindly let us celebrate the day in his garden, where more than forty friends gathered. It was a very happy event which surely would bear fruit. The friends who gathered sent a greeting to the Guardian to which he replied:
Haifa, June 20, 1931
In May a Religious Conference was held in Tokyo at which I was asked to speak on the Bahá'í Revelation. In my talk I quoted the words of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá to the Japanese in Oakland, California. Miss Michi Kawai, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, interpreted my talk into Japanese. After the talk a Japanese minister, Rev. Kodaira, came and told me that he was present when ‘Abdu'l-Bahá spoke in Oakland and had translated His address into Japanese. He said ‘Abdu'l-Bahá had invited him to breakfast with Him in San Francisco and that it was a time of great inspiration. He was going to England in the summer, and hoped to stop in Palestine on the way, and there pay his respects at the Shrine of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. My talk that day was afterwards published in two editions of the English edition of the Japanese newspaper Osaka Mainichi.
Keith Ransom-Kehler in Japan
On June 12, 1931, I wrote: "A great joy has come to me. For a short time I have felt as though something happy was coming and yesterday morning a cable from dear Ella Cooper told me that Keith Ransom-Kehler will arrive in Yokohama on the twenty-fifth, so now the source of my happiness is clear. Although I have never met this sister, yet I can feel her fragrance and a thrill comes to my heart that she will soon be here. Indeed God is good and I thank Him for His help, without which nothing could be done. I have felt very much the need of Bahá'í teachers to come to this Orient and also China. The work needs to be reinforced by others. The seeds are planted but the harvest time does not yet seem ripe."
After Keith had left Japan on August twenty-first, I wrote the friends telling of her wonderful stay with me. "Although I had only known of our dear sister Keith through the Bahá'í News Letters and her writings in the Star of the West, yet when the cable came from dear Ella Cooper that she was on her way to Japan, a great love and inspiration sprang up in my heart. Even before the cable arrived I had felt a special happiness. Then on the morning before the cable came, a thrill of joy, and the thought that our Guardian was sending some happy message filled my heart. Shortly after the cable that Keith was on her way was handed me. Five days before her arrival, a second cable from Honolulu stated that she would remain 'two weeks' in Japan. This at first saddened my heart, but when I knew if it were His Will, all was for the best, and before she arrived a two weeks program had been filled. It was a happy meeting when she arrived in Yokohama on June twenty-fifth. We felt a peace and joy in being together and Keith said she felt a happiness here. I longed that she might remain longer, as there was so much we could do together, but as her plans had been submitted to Shoghi Effendi she did not feel she could change them without his knowledge and consent, so two days after her arrival I cabled him asking if it were permissible for her to remain longer. We decided that if no word came in answer, then she would keep to her original plan. The day before she was to leave, when we felt satisfied that we were striving to do His Will only, the following cable was received, 'Whole heartedly approve Keith extend stay love Shoghi.' At the time Keith was packed to go. The cable was probably late in reaching us as Shoghi Effendi had left Haifa for the summer. As the steamers to Australia go monthly, Keith remained another month, making a stay in all of six weeks. Without making previous plans, each day was
"All that it meant to Japan to have Keith with me to strengthen and encourage the friends, can never be told in words. Her first public talk the day after her arrival was at the Pan-Pacific luncheon. As the speeches there are taken down by a stenographer, I was delighted the next morning to see the most inspiring of her words, under the heading, 'The Bahá'í Movement,' in the Japan Advertiser, the leading English newspaper of Japan which is American owned. This was a great confirmation and showed how when we are in love and unity, the Holy Spirit speaks through us and attracts people to our Cause. That evening we had a gathering of the Friends in my room to meet Keith. The next day, the twenty-seventh, we attended a tea party where I knew her presence would attract to our Cause. In the evening we had a Chinese dinner with some of the directors of the Chinese YMCA after which she spoke to a group of the Chinese students of which there are several thousand in Tokyo. On Sunday, the twenty-eighth, a group met in my room. Keith spoke with our dear brother, Rev. Sempo Ito, translating. Among the group were two Korean students whom Mr. Ito had brought. He told us afterwards that they said they found a 'very good feeling' in the gathering.
"At 8 o'clock, the next morning, Keith spoke at the chapel exercises of the Japan Women's University, one of the teachers, a graduate of Vassar College translating. The founder of this university, the late President Naruse, met ‘Abdu'l-Bahá when in London in 1912. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá urged him to return to Japan and spread the Bahá'í teachings, and in 1916, he invited me to speak in the chapel to the whole school on the Bahá'í Movement. So in this university the seed has been sown and the future will show the results. In the evening Keith spoke to a group of students from the Commercial University who had arranged a tea party for us. Keith was delighted with meeting this group of the rising generation of Japan and of having opportunity of talking with them and answering their questions.
"The next afternoon, we were invited to the beautiful garden of Dr. Masujima, who shows kindness to the Bahá'í friends. He was away en route to England, but we met in his law library law students from Keio University who gather there every Tuesday to study and have Japanese supper together. Martha and I had both spoken here at different times, so it was good to have Keith reinforce the efforts which had been made. As we were leaving the library, the student who had arranged for our coming accompanied us and asked if we would have our photograph taken with him, to which we gladly consented. (See Star of the West, Vol. XXIV, page 372.)
"After attending a tea party the next day, we were guests of the YMCA English Speaking Club for supper where Keith spoke. This club has heard the Bahá'í Teachings many times, but as the members are constantly changing, it is almost always a new group. Martha, on her three visits to Japan has each time spoken there and I have spoken a number of times of the Bahá'í Movement, so again Keith reinforced the work. We returned to the club at their request on several Wednesday evenings when they met, and each time Keith spoke. Many seeds were sown and some of the members came to my room to hear more of the Cause.
"Several evenings we especially invited the Bahá'í friends and those we hoped to confirm, to my room so that Keith might speak to them of the Bahá'í Administration. One evening we had the pleasure of welcoming two Indian young men who were most open-minded in regard to the Cause. Two meetings of great importance, I feel, were those of Buddhist gatherings. One was at the Buddhist Temple where on January tenth, I had been asked to speak on the Bahá'í Movement, which was the beginning of a series of meetings held on the tenth of each month. Keith spoke here on the tenth of July, when Mr. Ito translated for her. The other gathering was a Buddhist summer lecture conference. Here Keith spoke on the Bahá'í Message and referred to the Buddha's teachings. Mr. Ito again translated for her.
"One day, through the efforts of Mr. Ito, we were invited to a private school which prepares students for immigration to South America. The principal of the school, which is out of the city and self-supporting, is a most earnest Christian. Here we were received with great cordiality. We will never forget the sight of the principal kneeing before his students, leading them in fervent prayer. In the afternoon we were guests for tea of Dr. S. Nasu, who first heard of the Bahá'í Teachings in New York, and who is a devoted friend of Roy Wilhelm. There we met a dozen or more graduate students who are assisting him in his work as Director of the Agricultural Department of the Imperial University. Every day was filled with seed sowing. Several afternoons I invited some ladies to meet Keith and to have tea with us. One of these ladies, an American, invited us also to tea at her home. She writes me, 'I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed having her (Keith). She was like a being from another planet.'
"Keith also spoke in the YMCA night school, to an English night school, and at a Girls' Higher School where Martha had spoken and I had been teaching Esperanto. This is a very brief outline and does not adequately convey the wonderful spirit which Keith showed to all and which was reciprocated by those who met her."
Keith wrote to Shoghi Effendi, "The contacts which Agnes Alexander made for me in the Universities and the student groups were most rewarding; Friday night Bahá'í meetings were well attended by inquiring students, many nationalities being represented. Agnes felt that the most important of all was the several meetings held for the confirmed Bahá'ís and those about to declare themselves, to study and grasp the import and modus vivendi of Administration." When Keith left Tokyo on her way to China, I accompanied her on the steamer from Yokohama to Kobe, where we took a train to Kyoto to visit our blind brother, Tokujiro Torii. There we spent the last night together in the hospitable Japanese home of Mr. and Mrs. Torii and their dear boy Akira. The kindness of the family to us was without bounds. Keith said, "I have never known such kindness." She was deeply impressed to see in the Japanese place of honor in the home a small bronze relief copy of a picture of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, under which was the Greatest Name carved in wood. These spiritual treasures were touched by the fingers of the materially blind. Mr. Torii and Akira accompanied us the next morning to Kobe, where we met the Buddhist priest brother. Mr. Daiun Inouye, and spent an hour together before Keith sailed away.
Shortly after Keith left Tokyo, the Japan Advertiser,
From the first day in Japan Keith loved the people and their art. After she left me, in her first letter she wrote that she was planning to return and be with me again, and in her last letter to me written shortly before her passing in Persia she wrote: "I still like Japan better than any country that I have visited and I often think with love and longing of the precious friends there. Please assure them that I remember each one of them. Give them all my hearty Bahá'í love." I am grateful to God that she came into my life!
I went to Kobe especially that Mr. Torii and I might consult with Mr. Inouye about the translation of the Esslemont book into Japanese. After Keith left we had lunch together. In June that year Mr. Inouye had lost his only daughter who was sixteen years old. As we sat together in love and unity, Mr. Inouye suddenly said he would translate the book himself as a memorial to his daughter. A wave of joy came to us with his inspiration. Three different translations had previously been attempted, but had failed to conform to the beloved Guardian's request to "take every precaution to put it into as good Japanese as possible." After the departure of the third translator, Shoghi Effendi wrote:
As regards the translation of Esslemont's book, he was sorry to learn of the sudden departure of the translator, and hence of the impossibility of his completing the work. In view of the importance which he attaches to this translation, however, he would urge you to find some suitable person and arrange for its translation entirely.
Visits in Japanese Homes
I had expected to return to Tokyo after Keith sailed. How little do we know God's plans for us! Instead of returning to Tokyo, I accepted Mr. Torii's invitation to go with his family to his father's home in the country. Through His guidance, I was privileged to visit during nineteen days in the Japanese homes of some of the former students who were among the Tokyo Bahá'í group at the time of my first sojourn there. They were then all married and had their homes and children.
Returning to the Torii home in Kyoto, I accompanied the family to Miguchi in the country where I remained for nine happy days. In a letter to the friends from Toyohashi, August twenty-first, I wrote: "Probably I am the only foreigner who has visited that village where Mr. Torii's family are engaged in silk manufacture. The whole family could not have been more kind to me and they said it was only balancing what I had done for their son and brother in the past. The night after Keith left, I had spent in Kobe with another Bahá'í sister who, when a school girl in Tokyo became confirmed in the Cause and was often, in those days before the great earthquake of 1923, in my little Japanese home in Tokyo. She is now married and has two lovely boys. She and her husband made me most welcome and asked me always to come and stay in their home and this she said was to repay for what she had received in my home when a school girl. I speak of these things for they came to me so unexpectedly.
"This is the time of the year called Obon, when in every family the dead ones are especially remembered. This time and the New Year in January are the two times in the year when workers have holidays. At Mr. Torii's home I had the privilege of taking part as a member of the family in a Buddhist ceremony for the dead ancestors of Mrs. Torii's family. In the village Buddhist temple, with beautiful surroundings, this ceremony was held. All the relatives of the family gathered in the temple where the dear old priest and his assistants chanted sutras, and the members of the family, one by one, paid their respect at the altar. After the ceremony they all visited the family burying ground. It was all a beautiful, sweet atmosphere and the family said they felt it was providential that I was there at that time. One beautiful thing in these ceremonies is that the little children all take part. Another event and fete for the dead was that held in a neighboring town which has an ocean inlet. Here at night beautiful little miniature boats lighted with candles were put in the water, each boat representing someone who had died during the year in the town. Each family also placed a lighted candle fastened to a round hemp mat, in the water. At the same time beautiful fire works were sent up so that the whole scene was one of beauty. The little miniature boats one by one became ignited by the candles on them and disappeared in flames of fire, the symbol of the spirit. This is a very old custom which is carried out every year in this town.
"Another thousand years old custom observed is called Tanabata. In front of the house bamboo branches are placed on which paper streamers of all the rainbow colors flutter. These have verses written on the them and are for the stars, as it is believed that on this particular night two stars, male and female lovers meet in the heavens. The Tanabata at Mr. Torii's home was unique in all the world, for on it were written words from Bahá'u'lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, as well as the Greatest Name in both Roman and Persian letters. One of the verses suggested by Mr. Torii was, 'A star has the same radiance whether it shines from the East or from the West.' ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.
"Leaving Mr. Torii's home, I visited another friend whom I had not met for ten years. He is now the Social Director in one of the Gunze Filature factories and has the spiritual welfare of 700 factory girls under his care. I feel it was a wonderful visit I had in his home where his mother, wife and four children live. Twice I spoke a few words to the factory girls at their time of assembly. In the factory, before the girls retire, a bell sounds and all is quiet. The girls then sit in quiet meditation until another bell sounds. As ten girls live in one room, it gives them an opportunity to commune in quiet. The manager believes that the girls do better work when their hearts are at peace and something is given them to bring spiritual contentment. This friend felt his interest in our Bahá'í teachings renewed and said he was going to begin again his study of the literature. At this place also I was probably the only foreigner who had visited it, and naturally was a great curiosity to the girls.
"Now I am here where I came to see after twelve years our Bahá'í brother, Mr. Fukuta. He was the first confirmed Bahá'í when I came to Japan for they had the honor of receiving from the Master the first Tablet sent to a Japanese living in Japan. He is married and has three lovely children and is working in the wholesale rice business. He says he puts the principles
After my return to Tokyo in the fall, Mrs. Lorol Schopflocher and Mr. Loveday of Eliot, Maine, passed through Tokyo. I was made happy by their two visits to my room when Mrs. Schopflocher spoke to the friends who had gathered. She had moving pictures taken of the friends at the Kudan Shrine, and also of students at the Government School for the Blind.
On October 16-18, the nineteenth Japanese Esperanto Congress was held in Kyoto. In 1923 the blind Esperantists of Japan had formed an organization. As they were to hold a sectional meeting during the Congress, Mr. Torii invited me to his home to attend the Congress and speak in the meeting of the blind. It was a great privilege for me to speak to them of the Bahá'í Cause and the blind of Japan, which Mr. Torii translated into Japanese. More than 300 Esperantists from all parts of Japan attended the Congress. I was, as usual, the only foreigner present, but felt as though among brothers. It was always a pleasure to be among the Japanese Esperantists who were the brightest hope of the country in promoting understanding and eliminating prejudice between the nations. A blind friend from Tokyo Mr. Kataoka, whose life had been changed from dense darkness to light, through the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, was also a guest in the Torii home, and I had the joy of talks with him. In Mr. Torii's library were many volumes of Braille books of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, which he had transcribed into Braille with the help of his wife, from the printed English editions.
The Chugai Nippo, a Buddhist newspaper, the only religious daily paper in Japan, had many times published articles about the Cause. While I was in Kyoto, it accepted an article from me which contained ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's words to the Japanese in Oakland, California. The few days spent in the blessed home of the Torii family were filled with His confirmations.
On November twenty-sixth, the beloved brother, Mr. Susumu Aibara, was taken ill and died suddenly on December twentieth. He was thirty-two years old and had a baby daughter a month old. At first his passing was a shock to me, but afterwards I was consoled by the realization that he was not far away, and that he would assist us from the Other Realm more than if he had remained with us. At his home I met with his family and intimate friends. The funeral service was held in a Buddhist temple where friends gathered to pay their respects, among whom were two hundred Esperantists. The Keio University group of Esperantists also honored him with a special service in a Buddhist temple where prayers were offered. I was invited to the service and afterwards to a dinner which was given by the group for the family. Nineteen were present at the dinner and each one spoke of the brother who had left us. At the head of the table a photograph of Mr. Aibara was placed with flowers and fruit offerings. At the dinner I met again Mr. Chikao Fujisawa, an ardent Esperantist who had been in Geneva working as a secretary of the League of Nations for a number of years. He afterwards gave a talk at a Bahá'í meeting which was published in the Bahá'í World, Vol. VI. On January ninth I had a gathering in my room in memory of Mr. Aibara when nine of the friends were present. It was through Mr. Aibara that the students of Keio University heard of the Bahá'í Cause. He was loved for his gentle, kindly disposition and had ability as a leader. The Tokyo Esperanto magazine published two pages of articles about him written by his friends, with his picture. Shoghi Effendi wrote on January 25, 1932, through his Secretary:
Shoghi Effendi wishes me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated Dec. 29, 1931, bearing the sad news of the death of Mr. Susumu Aibara. It is surely a great loss to have a young man of his ability and standing leave the group. Our sole comfort should be in this that he is at present in a higher spiritual realm enjoying a blissful being far beyond our powers to appreciate. Shoghi Effendi hopes that the members of his family will view his passing in that light and appease their sorrows. Please convey to them all Shoghi Effendi's sympathies.
On January 9, 1932, a letter came from Shoghi Effendi addressed to the Bahá'ís of Tokyo in answer to one sent him on November 12, 1931. In his own hand he wrote:
Dear and valued co-workers: Your message has imparted an indefinable joy to my heart and cheered me in my arduous task. Persevere in your efforts for the spread of our beloved Faith, and rest assured that my prayers will continue to be offered in your behalf. I cherish the brightest hopes for the extension of your deeply-valued activities and will supplicate the Almighty to bless and sustain your high endeavors. Your true brother, Shoghi.
First Bahá'í Assembly of Japan
On March nineteenth, in the Bahá'í Record book I wrote: "On the morning of March thirteenth, the guidance came that now was the time to form the first Japanese Assembly of Bahá'ís of Tokyo, and so I sent letters to the friends asking them to come and confer together on the fifteenth, at seven p.m. Mr. Nakanishi, Rev. Sempo Ito, Mr. H. Matsuda and Mrs. Yuri Furukawa were able to come. We then decided to meet again on Friday evening, the eighteenth. In the meantime, I visited all the friends who were not able to come. We counted in Tokyo at this time eleven who were confirmed, so nine had to be chosen. The eleven names are as follows: Rev. Sempo Ito, Mrs. Yuri Furukawa, Mrs. Ote Murakami, Mrs. Kanae Takeshita, Mr. Y. Kataoka, Mr. Keiji Sawada, Miss Agnes Alexander, Mrs. Antoinette Naganuma, Mr. Nakanishi, Miss Eito, Mr. H. Matsuda. The first nine names were chosen. In the Record Book on March twenty-first, I wrote: "Naw-Rúz celebration in the garden of Dr. R. Masujima, Azabu. Nineteen friends came, and with Dr. R. Masujima and his son-in-law and library custodian, the group made twenty-two. As the wind was blowing we changed the tables and chairs to indoors from the garden. The meeting was in charge of Mrs. Yuri Furukawa and the speakers were Dr. R.
In a letter of March twenty-sixth, I wrote the friends: "I write to convey to you the glad news of the forming of the Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo, the first Assembly of its kind in the world. It has long been the hope of our Guardian that here in Tokyo enough friends might be brought into the Cause as to form the first Japanese Spiritual Assembly in the world, as a nucleus round which would gather and flourish the future Bahá'í community of Japan. In one of his letters our Guardian wrote: 'My prayer will be offered again for you at His Holy Shrine that you may be assisted to establish permanently a Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly in that land and help that centre to get in close and constant touch with Assemblies both in the East and the West.'
"It is now my joyful privilege to write you as the Foreign Secretary of our newly formed Assembly which met last evening for the first time and elected officers. Our Assembly, which was born on the glad Naw-Rúz day, came into being wholly through the Master's power and guidance. . . . At our first Assembly meeting last night it was decided to publish monthly a Japanese Bahá'í magazine beginning in May. . . ."
On April twenty-first, for the first time in Japan a meeting was called to elect the Local Spiritual Assembly which had been formed on Naw-Rúz. One change only was made in the members, Mr. H. Matsuda taking the place of Mr. Kataoka who asked to be relieved. With the forming of the Assembly, the Cause in Japan received new life and vigor.
In a letter written on May twenty-sixth, is the following: "I am sending you some copies of our little Japanese Bahá'í monthly which was sent out on May twenty-third, the anniversary Day. It is a humble little sheet, but with your help and prayers it will succeed and carry His Message to many thousands. . . . Our little Bahá'í Group is very small and materially poor, but with His Assistance all things may be done. In sending these leaflets, I have thought they could be used to spread His Message among Japanese friends in other lands. Also it would help tremendously if friends in the different countries would send their messages, letters, or articles to this leaflet to be published and help in bringing to our world that great Unity which must eventually come. This leaflet offers that opportunity. . . "
From the Record Book on May twenty-third, is the following: "We celebrated the Day of the Báb in the Law Library upstairs room of our friend, Dr. R. Masujima. Nine friends were present. Mr. Chikao Fujisawa had prepared for the occasion a very fine address which I intend to send to the Bahá'í Magazine for publication. I was very happy that the Japan Times edition of that day published the article I had given them under the heading, "Origin of the Bahá'í Movement Told," and subheading, "May 23rd is Anniversary of Significant Event in Religious History."
Although only nine persons heard Mr. Fujisawa speak on May twenty-third, his address has been published in the Bahá'í World, and also in Stanwood Cobb's book, Security For a Failing World.
On June twenty-ninth, I wrote, "Recently I have been invited to three different groups of Esperantist where I was asked to give the Bahá'í Message." And on June twenty-seventh, I wrote: "Our Assembly of nine is composed of five ladies and four men which seems significant of the New Day in this oriental country. Two of the ladies, though, are American. At our last Friday evening gathering we had the pleasure of having with us Miss A.W. Henny of Holland, an international lawyer who is traveling around the world. . . . It was surely through His guidance that I came to meet Miss Henny. At the Friday noon Pan-Pacific luncheon here I mentioned to the lady sitting next to me that I was in Japan for the Bahá'í Movement. Immediately a stranger across the table spoke up and said she had been in the home of Shoghi Effendi. This was Miss Henny who came the same evening to our gathering. Although not claiming to be a Bahá'í, she said she thought the Greatest Holy Leaf was the most remarkable woman she had ever met. She said of our little sister, Mrs. Furukawa, formerly Miss Mochizuki, that she saw in her eyes the same look she had seen in the Bahá'ís of Alexandria."
Visit to Hokkaido
In the summer of 1932, I had the joy and privilege of visiting the northern island of Japan, Hokkaido, where a Bahá'í had not yet traveled. My visit came through the invitation of Mr. Tadashi Watanabe of the Technical School of Tomakomai. The Esperantists of Hokkaido were planning to hold the first Esperanto Congress of the island including seven cities, and invited me to attend and speak on the Bahá'í Cause.
In 1931 Mr. Watanabe had visited Seattle. As he was an ardent Esperantist, he attended the Esperanto meeting, where he met some of the Bahá'ís and heard for the first time of the teachings. The kindness shown him by the Bahá'ís, among whom was Mrs. Ida Finch, attracted him to the Cause, and on his return to Japan, while in Tokyo, he came to see me. It happened to be the evening of November twelfth, when the friends were gathered in my room, and we spent a very happy evening together. I felt the depth and beauty of Mr. Watanabe's soul, and gave him some of the Bahá'í Esperanto literature, including the Paris Talks by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. After his return to Tomokomai we corresponded, and in May, he started two mimeographed monthly papers. One of these was to unite the seven Esperanto groups in Hokkaido, and in the other, his personal publication, La Norda Kruco, he introduced the Bahá'í teachings with translations into Japanese from the Paris Talks of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. It was this which decided me to accept the invitation and go to Hokkaido that summer, as the Divine seed had already been started there.
Through God's bounty I was guided to go first to a summer boarding place in Onuma, kept by an English missionary lady, who showed no prejudice when I told her of my Faith. There I rested a few days before meeting with the Esperantists. On the train in Japan I had the joy of meeting a girl who was in my Esperanto class at the girls' school in Tokyo. I had been greatly attracted to her, and God granted me the privilege of meeting her
On August first, I left Onuma to join Mr. and Mrs Watanabe, who came from their home to meet and welcome me at a hot spring resort. At Muroran, the station before the resort, three young men entered the train and came with smiling faces to the section where I was sitting. One of them asked, "Cu vi estas F-ino Alexander?" I had been very tired, but meeting these bright young men, and speaking with them of His Cause, all else vanished. Mr. Watanabe had sent word to them that I would be on the train, and so they came to greet me and accompany me to the dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Watanabe. We spent a happy evening together until the young men had to return to their town. The next day I went with Mr. and Mrs. Watanabe to their home in Tomakomai. As the train reached the station, two students carrying Esperanto flags welcomed us. A crowd had assembled at the station, among them the Headman, as he is called, of the town, as the local newspaper had announced my arrival. In the evening a welcome meeting was held. I spoke in Esperanto to which Mr. Watanabe translated into Japanese. We sat around a long table, and at my right was the Headman of the town. (See Star of the West, Vol. XXIII, page 246). It was the first time for the Cause to be proclaimed on that island, and I felt a great happiness. Two Esperanto songs were sung, Espero and Tagigo. The heading on the mimeographed copies of the songs, which were passed around, translated from the Esperanto was, "Welcome to our Miss Agnes B. Alexander! We will sing, Hope for your future glory, and Dawn for your holy movement."
I had the joy of meeting a young Christian Minister, who was a student of Esperanto, and had heard from Mr. Watanabe of the Bahá'í Cause. He was open-minded and free from prejudice. The next morning I left with Mr. Watanabe for Yamabe, the center of the island where the Esperanto Congress was to be held. We traveled all day on trains before reaching the small village where the Oomoto movement had a center. This movement was later disbanded by the government. The Esperanto meetings were held in a school building, and there I spoke of the Bahá'í Teachings and Esperanto. Though the attendance was small, because of the distances to reach the village, yet the seed was sown and those who came were carriers of the Message to their home towns. The evening after the Congress was over, I was asked to speak in the hall of the Oomoto religion on the Bahá'í teachings. The hall was crowded with the country people whose eager earnest faces impressed me. In that far away village God granted me the privilege of planting the seed of the Divine Cause for this Day.
The next day, with Mr. Watanabe and an Esperantist friend, we visited the offices of two newspapers in the town of Asahigawa. From there I went with Mr. Watanabe to his family home in Sapporo, where we spent the night, and in the morning called at the office of the leading newspaper on the island, the Hokkai Times. The editor had an article ready to publish about the Congress and added to it something about the Bahá'í teachings and my attendance at the Congress. This I felt was God's great favor, for although the Congress had been held in the center of the Oomoto religion, only the Bahá'í Cause was mentioned. During the day in Sapporo we met a number of Esperantists and returned in the evening to the Watanabe home in Tomakomai. There I spent three nights during which I had the privilege of explaining the Bahá'í teachings more fully to Mr. Watanabe and the young minister. The kindness of Mr. Watanabe to me during our travels and of his wife in their home can never be forgotten.
I returned from Tomakomai to Onuma. The happiness, though, came when I went from there to Hakodate and met the Esperantists. At the Congress I had met an Esperantist from there who asked me to come to his city and meet the Esperantists. As I went unannounced, I inquired my way to his drug store. Mr. Odashina, the Esperantist, then telephoned to some Esperantists, two of whom worked in banks. As it was Saturday, they were free in the afternoon. The third Esperantist who came was a teacher and writer who had heard of the Cause in Tokyo. I suggested that we visit a newspaper and added that I knew God would help us. As the writer was acquainted with the editor of the Hakodate Shimbun, he telephoned and arranged for us to meet him. Almost immediately after receiving us the editor proposed that I should give a public talk in the Town Hall, which he would advertise in his paper, and also publish, and it would be without any expense to us. It was arranged that I should speak in Esperanto, and the writer would translate my talk into Japanese. After meeting the editor we spent a happy afternoon together talking of the Cause. The two young men from the banks said they had been Christians but they now had doubts. The other two friends had no definite beliefs. I returned that evening to Onuma, where I prepared the Esperanto talk. The subject chosen was, "Bahá'í the Religion of Religions." The next week on my return to Tokyo, I stopped a few days in Hakodate, when the public meeting was held. The night of the meeting, a flash light photograph was taken of myself and the interpreter, as we spoke on the platform, which was inserted in the newspaper with an account of the meeting. The following day the paper published an article on the history of the Cause with pictures of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and the Bahá'í Temple of Wilmette.
As I sailed away from the port the day after the meeting, the new friends were on the wharf waving their hearty farewells. Through His favor, in every place I visited I had been helped and cared for by kind friends. Only through the principle of Bahá'u'lláh of a universal language had we been drawn together.
A letter from the beloved Guardian dated July 30, reached me in Tokyo on September nineteenth, in which he wrote, through his Secretary:
He was particularly glad to learn of Mr. Tadashi Watanabe's recent publication on religion in which he has written about the Bahá'í teachings and he sincerely trusts that such an attempt on his part will serve to further the interests of the Faith and awaken many souls to the sublimity of the teachings and principles of the Cause. The Guardian wishes you therefore to associate with this well-known Esperantist and if you find it feasible to visit the northern island of Hokkaido where the Esperantists have already paved the way for a more extensive and more fruitful teaching campaign.
In anther letter from the Guardian dated October sixth, he wrote through his Secretary:
Shoghi Effendi was very glad to hear of your teaching activities. He sincerely hopes that the
seeds you have sown will gradually germinate and bring forth their fruit. Please extend the loving greetings of the Guardian to Mr. Watanabe and express his deep appreciation for the services rendered by him to you in this trip.
The morning of November twenty-fifth, a Persian Bahá'í, Mr. H. Touty, from Shanghai called. He was the first Persian Bahá'í to be greeted in Japan, and during his stay in Tokyo attended several meetings in my room. In a letter to the friends I wrote: "Through the bounty of Bahá'u'lláh, the Tokyo Assembly has a visit from our Persian brother, Mr. H. Touty of Shanghai, who came unexpectedly on business. He brought us spiritual help and the fragrance of the Master of whom he told us many beautiful stories of his visit in ‘Akká about twenty-five years ago, when he spent a month there. For five years Mr. Touty has been a resident of Shanghai and as a member of the group there, we feel our two groups, representing the power of God in this New Day in this Far Eastern Empire, and the Republic of China, have been more closely drawn together. It was my privilege to go one day with Mr. Touty to Kamakura, where the great image of Buddha, standing in the open surrounded by verdure, is most impressive. Looking at it one realizes that a people who more than 300 years ago conceived such a spiritual work of art have something profound within themselves. There we bought the famous three monkeys, the original of which is carved in wood in the mausoleum in Nikko. One monkey has his hands to his eyes, one to his mouth, and one to his ears, symbolizing, see, speak and hear no evil. The next morning, on opening the Hidden Words the first verse my eyes saw was number 44 of the Persian section: 'O Companion of my Throne! Hear no evil, and see no evil; . . . Speak no evil . . .'"
Esslemont Book Translated Into Japanese
In December, 1931, I received a letter from the beloved Guardian dated, Haifa, October 8, 1931 as follows:
Dear Miss Alexander,
As I received no word from Mr. Inouye in Kobe in answer to my letters to him regarding the Esslemont translation into Japanese, I was guided to go there in February in order to confer with him in person. It was a blessed meeting and we had some happy spiritual visits. While there I occupied the room in the temple which had been his daughter's. We arranged that he would have a helper in the translation work, and in April it was completed. Mrs. Yuri (Mochizuki) Furukawa who was in charge of the printing of the book, felt that the translation was not suited to the younger generation and arranged to have it corrected. This caused still another delay in the publication of the book. On March fifteenth, Shoghi Effendi wrote through his Secretary:
Shoghi Effendi wishes to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated February 17th, 1932. It is surely a pity that so many unforeseen circumstances seem to delay the progress of the translation of Dr. Esslemont's book, because upon the completion of that work rests the real start of an effective teaching work in Japan. Anyhow we have to appreciate the great kindness of Mr. Inouye to undertake the task and pray that his handicaps be eliminated. Please extend Shoghi Effendi's greetings and assure him of his deep appreciation for the wonderful service he has offered to render to the progress of the Cause in Japan. . .
Shoghi Effendi himself ordered 100 copies of the books to be sent to him in Haifa when completed and printed.
On December twelfth, in the Bahá'í Record book is the following: "It was the Temple day meeting and the afternoon when the books, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era were to be delivered from the binders. Mrs. Furukawa and Mr. Matsuda had come especially to help receive the books. We had supper together but not until after ten p.m. were all the 1,000 copies delivered. How thankful we should be to Bahá'u'lláh for this bounty which is at last accomplished and for which Shoghi Effendi has waited so long."
A letter from the beloved Guardian dated Haifa, January 15, 1933, was received in Tokyo February 13, 1933, as follows:
Dear Miss Alexander,
Please extend the Guardian's deep appreciation and thanks to those who rendered their assistance in this noble work. They will obtain the reward of their labours from the services this book will render to the Cause as well as to the people of their land. He is certain that through it many seeking souls will learn of the truth of the Faith and thereby attain the source of eternal grace and salvation.
Again a precious message came from the Guardian dated February 11, 1933, in which he wrote:
Dear and much-prized co-worker: With feelings of intense delight and gratitude, I have sent this very afternoon the books you sent me to the library of the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahjí. They will be placed by myself side by side with the fourteen printed versions ofThe New Era, and will be a constant reminder of your perseverance, your magnificent efforts, your exemplary devotion to the Cause of God. It is a historic service that you have rendered to the Abhá Threshold. I urge you to send one copy to each of the most important Bahá'í centres in East and West. Its effect, I feel, will be remarkable. Your true brother, Shoghi
When Keith reached Haifa she wrote me on May 13, 1933 "How my heart rejoiced with you over the crowning of your years of heart ache effort and devotion in the completion of Esslemont, and how rejoiced our Guardian is at your really stupendous accomplishment. I told him of all your faithful devotion and steadfastness; his appreciation of your efforts is boundless."
A teacher in the Yokohama Commercial University. Mr. K. Denzo Koyama, first heard of the Bahá'í Cause from Miss Jessie Revell in Philadelphia. In 1930 Martha Root and I met him and he arranged for her to speak to the students of his class. From that time I was invited many times to speak to his students in Yokohama. When Keith Ransom-Kehler was with me, through Mr. Koyama, she was invited to speak in a gathering in Yokohama. In the Bahá'í Record book is the following: "January 25. It was my pleasure to be the guest of twelve students of the Yokohama Commercial University. We had tea at Fujiya and discussed the Bahá'í Teachings for two hours."
On February fourteenth, through Mr. H. Matsuda, who was attending the Tokyo Commercial University, I was invited to speak to a group of the students on the Bahá'í Cause, and on the seventeenth, I was asked to speak on the Cause in the YMCA Chapel time at six p.m. to the students of the Night School.
It was a great privilege to meet on March 14th, Mr. Spendlove, who had spent two weeks in Haifa while on a trip around the world. He was in Tokyo only two days and I invited some friends to meet him on the fifteenth. Mr. Matsuda, Mr. Sawada and Dr. Kovrig, a Hungarian, who had heard of the Bahá'í Cause in Shanghai, gathered in my room where we spent several hours together, and Mr. Spendlove explained the teachings to Dr. Kovrig. The next day I went to Yokohama and said farewell to Mr. Spendlove who sailed for Vancouver. I felt he was a uniting link between the Bahá'ís of the West and those of the East.
Because of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf, we did not celebrate Naw-Rúz.
Return to Honolulu
In the house where I had lived for five years in Tokyo, the conditions were difficult, and I had not been well. At the Spiritual Assembly meeting on March twenty-fourth, I asked the friends if they felt I should move. They agreed they felt I should move. In the Record book I wrote, "The friends feel it were better for me to change my residence — this is in God's hands who alone is our Guide." Although I did my best to find a place where I could move, nothing opened up for me. On April twenty-first, I received a letter from my brother in Honolulu, who wrote of the sudden death of his wife. Like a flash it came to me that I was to move to Honolulu, and with it came a joy and inspiration, so there was no mistaking it was there.
The friends could not all meet, or send in their votes for the Spiritual Assembly on the twenty-first, so we postponed the meeting until the twenty-eighth. The Assembly which was elected for the second year was the same with one change, Mr. Kenji Ogawa, who took the place of Mr. Keiji Sawada.
On May nineteenth, I invited the friends to have supper with me for the last gathering in my room, as I was leaving for Honolulu on May thirtieth. Mrs. Yuri Furukawa had taken a house in Yotsuya in which to teach French and English, and there we arranged to have the Bahá'í meetings. The first meeting was held there on May twenty-third. In the Bahá'í Record book I wrote, "I made a collection of Bahá'í books of about twenty-five and took to Mrs. Furukawa's house as the beginning of the Aibara Memorial Library. Mrs. Furukawa has placed my scroll of the Greatest Name together with Juliet Thompson's portrait of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in the entrance of her house. She also has my large Temple picture in her sitting room. . . . It is a great joy to me to have the center now in the home of one of the Japanese friends."
From the Record book is the following: "May 28. On
I arrived in Honolulu on June eight, and on that day in Haifa the beloved Guardian wrote me as follows:
Letters From Japan
While in Honolulu I received a letter from Akira Torii, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Tokujiro Torii. He was then fifteen years old and had been ill for a long time. His mother told me that during his long illness, his companions were classic musical records. Before I reached Japan, in March, 1935, this beloved boy passed away. For a few days I felt great sorrow when I heard of his death, then a happy realization came to me that he had a work to do from the Other Realm and would help us all. His name for me was Obasan, or Aunt. He had been very diligent in studying English. His letter follows: "Kyoto, Japan, Dec. 17, 1933. Beloved Obasan! I wish you a Happy New Year. Thank you so much for your beautiful cards and interesting pictures of Hawaiian fishes. Here I am enclosing some pictures which were displayed at the Imperial Exhibition and also a chrysanthemum that I made. I hope they will bring you our loving thoughts. I am very glad to let you know that I have been almost fully recovered, though I am still at home every day listening to music, as I like to hear records so much. Hawaiian songs make me think of you and your beautiful islands. We are greatly surprised to hear that Keith passed away so suddenly. My grandmother is now here and we are thinking and talking of her very much. With loving greetings to you all from your Akira."
In a letter from Mr. Tadashi Watanabe, of Tomakomai, Hokkaido, dated October 25, 1934, he wrote: "De tiam, kiam vi forlasis nian landon la Bahaa movado, iras ne tiel bone en Japanujo, cu ne? Mi ankau tre malofte audas pri la movado. Via frua reveno al ni estas varmege dezirata, mi pensas. Sed mi sentas koran gojon, audante vian revenon tre proksimiganta. Kore me esperas, ke vi revenu frue laupove kaj okazigu la movadon kun nova energio, kaj ni ankau subtenu gin kun tuta forto. La movado certe reiros pli viglan kaj pli prosperan vojon. Nia movado estas ciam pli forte dezirata ce nuna stato krizplena en la mondo. La movado kaj gia plifortigo devas esti ciam pli grava. Ni manon en mano devas marsi antauen la veran komprenon inter popoloj kaj nacioj."
click for larger image
Miss Alexander (left) with Mrs. May Maxwell. Taken in 1934.
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,
On January 4, 1937, I received a letter from Louis Bosch in which she related two dreams she had had. She thought that they concerned our dear Yuri San. In my diary that day I wrote: "Louise Bosch's letter gives new inspiration that with unity and Divine help the flower of Yuri San (Yuri means lily) will blossom." In one of the dreams Louise saw a great heap of all kinds of rubbish piled high up. The place seemed to be in Japan. Through a small opening in the pile, to her great astonishment she saw a baby lying in the midst of the rubbish. It looked well and smiling, although the only light it received was through the opening. When I reached Haifa I told the Guardian of the dream. He said briefly that it symbolized the struggling Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in Japan.
After reading Louise's letter, I began to feel that I should not go away and leave the baby under the rubbish heap. The morning of February ninth, suddenly I realized that the burden of the baby was not in my hands. but God's, and I could leave all to His care. Then I began to arrange to leave for Haifa and engaged my passage on the Kashima Maru, which was to leave Moji, the last port in Japan, on March twentieth. There I planned to board the steamer in order that I might visit the friends in Kyoto before sailing.
Before leaving Tokyo, I received Braille letters from my blind friends, Mr. H. Mimura and Mr. Kataoka, who had become a teacher in a school for the blind in Nagoya. Mr. Mimura wrote: "You are leaving Japan for the Holy Land. You say you are going for us, all the blind in Japan and not for yourself, so your mission will be noble and sublime. We blind must thank you with all our hearts. You must be very happy about going to see Shoghi Effendi there. I too am very happy to read the book about Bahá'u'lláh. I swear to Him to be a faithful servant of His. When my baby grows up, I will tell her about the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. You have been so kind to me and all my family. We shall never forget you. Bon Voyage! "
Mr. Kataoka wrote in part from Nagoya: "I think you are now very busy preparing to go to the Holy Land. I hope that you will come back again to Japan with goodtidings, more love and more light. . . . The world is now marching into the unhappiest and saddest direction. . . . We should take hands firmly and stand up to bring love and light to the world. . . . I wish you a happy travel. Hoping to see you again and craving for your good tidings."
During the days of the Fast I made preparations to leave Tokyo. The dear Japanese friends came to visit me and brought many presents, some for myself and some for Shoghi Effendi and also Fujita.
When I went to Japan for the first time, Mr. C.M. Remey sent me a copy of the Greatest Name which was surrounded by a beautiful design in color of his own workmanship. I had it mounted in Japanese style on a scroll, and for many years it hung in the place of honor in the homes I had occupied, where it had been greatly admired. In January 1936, a thief entered my home and carried it away with other things. Although I could not understand the reason why it was taken, I did not feel disturbed and later bought another scroll to take its place. It was a typically Japanese scroll. I was attracted to it by the beautiful rising sun. When I was leaving for Haifa, I took the scroll with me thinking I might give it to Fujita.
The days following were filled with arranging for my departure to Palestine and entertaining the friends. Before leaving Tokyo the guidance came to me that I would not return direct from Palestine to Japan, but would continue the journey to America. I did not speak of this, though, for I wished to wait until I met the beloved Guardian and received from him his directions. I expected to return to Tokyo within a year. How little we can foresee the future! My Bahá'í library was left with Dr. R. Masujima, and my household belongings and trunks were sent to a store house.
On the sixteenth of March I left Tokyo for Kyoto. The first two nights there were spent at the home of Miss Mary Denton. There was a providence in this, for I met again Miss Teresina Rowell, whom I had entertained in my home in Tokyo. There I had the opportunity to speak with her of the Cause and gave her literature. She had joined in Kyoto the Ittoen group, who believed in service without asking for recompense. The morning of the eighteenth, I went to the dear Torii home and remained until the following evening when I took a train to Moji. Mr. Torii had arranged for us to go to the office of the Buddhist newspaper Chugai Nippo. The editors received us cordially and I told of my intended visit to Haifa, the situation of Haifa at the foot of Mr. Carmel, of the Bahá'í Shrines, Fujita, the Pilgrim House and the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi. I also said the visit was for the Japanese friends. That was what I thought when I left Japan, but when I mentioned it to the Guardian, he said it was for myself. A photograph was taken of Mr. and Mrs. Torii and myself as we sat in the editor's reception room, which was used in the paper the next day with the story as I had told it to the editor.
The evening of the nineteenth, the Toriis had a dinner party. Mr. Watanabe, the blind friend, had come in the morning to see me and remained until evening. Also the blind friends, Mr. Kawai and Miss Suzuki, were at the dinner. I was happy to spend the last day in Japan with the dear blind friends. Mr. Watanabe gave me some Japanese incense and asked me to take it to the Shrine of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Mr. and Mrs. Torii gave me some beautiful silk squares which the Japanese use to cover presents, one of which was for the Guardian. When I went to the train that evening, twelve Japanese friends, five of whom were blind, came to say goodby to me. Two of the friends were from the newspaper Chugai Nippo. They brought with them copies of the paper, which was published that day, giving an account of the interview they had had with me the day before. When the article was later translated to me on the steamer, I found it to be very good and correct. The editors brought with them
Mr. Inouye had written to ask me when the train would pass through Kobe. He felt that as I was going on an important pilgrimage, he wanted to see me and say goodby. When the train stopped in Kobe, I heard a voice call, "Miss Alexander! Miss Alexander!" Then Mr. Inouye hurriedly came into the train and gave me a package containing two beautiful Japanese fans, which he asked me to take to the "Lord of the Bahá'í Kingdom and his Madam." There was not time for me to explain that the Guardian was not married as the train stopped only five minutes. We did not know then that the Guardian was going to be married in a few days. While Mr. Inouye was waiting for the train, he wrote on a paper the messages he wished to convey to me and handed me the paper. He wrote: "We pray God's protection for your safe and sound travel. I shall feel very lonely while you are away from Japan, and will expect you again in Japan in no distant day. Please convey our good wishes to The Lord of the Bahá'í Kingdom in Haifa. The two Japanese fans I offer to the Guardian and his Madam." Mr. Inouye was the last friend I met in Japan.
I reached the port of Moji at noon on March twentieth. Through Divine favors I had been able to keep the Fast in spite of traveling. Before the steamer sailed, a Japanese telegram came from Mr. Torii. Translated it read, "Goodby, take care of yourself, Torii." How dear were those words, the last to reach me in Japan!
The next day was the joyous Bahá'í New Year. In my notes I wrote: "A joyous thrill came to me as we sailed from Moji. I saw before me but one land, the Holy Land, and the glorious person of Shoghi Effendi. All the world seemed nothing in comparison to this land and person. What a glorious privilege God has given me that I can make this trip for the friends in Japan and pray for all there at the Holy Shrines. This morning I spoke at the breakfast table of the Naw-Rúz day, and later had a talk with a young man, Mr. Yoshida, who goes to London and will be in the Japanese Embassy there. He translated to me the article which the Chugai Nippo published the day I left about my trip. Yesterday was cold and raining but today the weather is beautiful and all the passengers are happy, at least I hope so."
At the breakfast table I had only mentioned to my table companions, an American army officer and his wife, the significance of the day and added that it was the New Year day of my faith, the Bahá'í Faith.
On March twenty-second, I wrote: "We reached Shanghai this morning. Mr. Suleimani and Mr. Ouskouli came to the steamer to take me to the Suleimani apartment where I spent the day. Mr. Touty and a Mrs. Chan from Honolulu, a friend of Mrs. Tsao's, came to dinner. As the steamer remained in port until three p.m. the next day, I again spent part of a day at the Suleimani home and Mr. Touty and Mrs. Chan came again to lunch. Mr. Touty then took me in his auto to the steamer. He gave me a box of chocolates which I shared with the passengers." The friends whose names I mentioned were the dear Persian Bahá'ís of Shanghai.
After leaving Shanghai, the wife of the American army officer asked me if I could give her something about my faith, that she had spoken of it to a friend in Shanghai who wished to know about it. Thus the way opened for me to give her Esslemont's book to read, and some pamphlets to send her friend.
On April second, my father's birthday, a young woman who had come on to the steamer with her husband, an aviator in the United States service, asked me about my faith. She had heard of it from the army officer's wife. I loaned Esslemont's book to her also. To a lady from Melbourne I loaned Security for a Failing World, and to another lady who was going with her husband to Sumatra, I spoke of the Cause and gave her a pamphlet as she was not able to read at that time.
In Colombo I took a taxicab with friends from the steamer to a modern Buddhist Temple. I spoke of the Cause to the intelligent taxi driver and gave him a Bahá'í booklet and told him I too believed in Buddha.
On the steamer was Mr. Genyoku Kuwaki, a Japanese scholar to whom I spoke of the Cause. He said he had heard of it from a Mr. Miyata, the late principal of a girls' school. I loaned him the Bahá'í World Vol. V, which I had with me, and also Esslemont's book. He showed no prejudice but did not awaken to the reality of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.
At Suez many of the passengers left the steamer for the day to go to Cairo, while the steamer passed through the Red Sea and then joined it again the next day in Port Said. I was asked to go, but decided to remain on the steamer, as I had no way of getting in touch with the Bahá'ís of Cairo. Instead, God granted me the bounty that day of speaking of the Cause to a lady from Australia who had recently come on the steamer. When I spoke of Bahá'u'lláh she said she felt another Messenger should come. I left her some literature as we parted that evening.
Arrival at Port Said
Mr. Ouskouli had sent from Shanghai an airmail letter to the Bahá'ís of Port Said to let them know I would be on the steamer. At mid-night, the dawn of April nineteenth, the steamer docked at Port Said, but it was not until after breakfast the next morning the passengers went ashore. Before I had had breakfast, two young men came to my cabin door. I recognized one of them immediately as the brother of Mirza Ali Yazdi of Berkeley, California, from his resemblance to his brother, and the other was Jean Aliwafay. The first words Mirza Yazdi said were, "The Guardian is married and you will never guess to whom." Without hesitation I immediately guessed, although I had not known that May Maxwell and her daughter had remained in Haifa after the winter. The Bahá'í brothers escorted me to Mirza Yazdi's store, where I met another Bahá'í, Philip Naimi, a Syrian, and later Alu Saad El Din joined us and went the home of Mirza Yazdi for lunch. In the afternoon a meeting was arranged of women to meet me. Nine gathered and one of them translated for me. In the late afternoon some of the friends accompanied me by auto to Kantara, the station between Africa and Asia. When I showed my passport at the station before entering the train, it was found that it had expired that very day. It happened there was a Bahá'í in the Customs office who came to my assistance, and it was arranged that I might
Arrival in Haifa
When we reached Haifa I was surprised to find it a bustling, active city. Fujita met me first and asked why the train was so late. He escorted me to the auto where Hussein Effendi the Guardian's brother, was waiting for me. Then we drove to the Western Pilgrim House. The first one to greet me there was my beloved May Maxwell. What a bounty God granted me that after waiting thirty-six years to visit the Holy Land, when at last I reached there my spiritual mother greeted me! As soon as we were seated she began to tell me of her daughter's marriage, and pointing across the street to the little story on the top of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's home, she said, "That is where she is." We were interrupted shortly after by Hussein Rabbani who came to let me know that the Guardian would see me in half an hour. For two days and nights I had been without sleep. I hurried to wash and change my travel-worn clothes. Then Fujita accompanied me across the street carrying the box which contained the doll in the glass case which had been given me by the students of Seikei School on November 26, 1936. This I presented to the Guardian. The meeting with the Guardian seemed very natural. He spoke of the room we were in, that it was the room in which the Master received His guests, and pointed out the chair in which He sat. The Guardian spoke of the Cause throughout the world and then of Japan and said that the Japanese should establish the Cause in Japan, that the next books to translate into Japanese were the Hidden Words, then the Gleanings, and afterwards the Íqán and Some Answered Questions. Then he said I should not return to Japan alone, that I should have help, and that someone might go with me from America. It was a great surprise to me when he said he wanted me to go to Germany, for I had never dreamed of it, but I had hoped I could go to Paris where thirty-six years before I had received the confirmation to go forth and teach His Cause. The Guardian added that I might spend a week or so in Paris and in London.
In the afternoon I went across to the Master's house where the women of the Holy Family met for tea. In the evening the beloved Guardian came to the Pilgrim House where he dined with us. Fujita would call us when the dinner was brought from the Guardian's house, and then Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell and I would go to the dining room and remaining standing until he entered accompanied by his wife. He would say, "Good evening!" to us in his beautiful resonant voice. That first evening he directed me to the seat opposite him at the table, while Mrs. Maxwell sat at his right and his wife at his left. His conversation was inspiring. Addressing Mr. Maxwell, he spoke of the Plan of Bahá'u'lláh, that the Báb had declared and referred to it and ‘Abdu'l Bahá had embodied it in a blueprint, as it were, and we were the champion builders to carry out the Plan.
The next day, April twenty-first, the men went to Bahjí for the day and the women had a meeting in the afternoon in the little building near the monument to the Greatest Holy Leaf. It was a new experience for me. The Tablets and Prayers were chanted in Persian. I noticed that they did not bow their heads and close their eyes, as is done in western countries in prayer. When I spoke of it they said, "We were listening to the words." After the meeting we walked across to the Shrines.
Fujita accompanied me to the Shrines the next day, as I wanted to learn the way in order to go alone in the early morning.
I was eager to share the Guardian's soul inspiring words of wisdom with others, especially the friends in Honolulu, and May Maxwell told me the Guardian permitted the friends to take notes at the dinner table. I then took a note book to the table, but found it very difficult to write the first evening. After that every evening before dinner I supplicated the Beloved for His assistance that I might be able to write the words of knowledge which flowed from the Guardian, and only through His help was I enabled to write. I realized afterwards that it was a spiritual matter which depended on one's spiritual condition and not the outward ability to write. When I left Haifa I felt great regret that I had not done better. [These "pilgrim's notes" are online at bahai-library.com/alexander_notes_presence_shoghieffendi. -J.W.]
The early morning of April twenty-third, I went up to the Shrines alone, as I felt time was precious and would not come again. Whenever I went the radiant gardener always gave me a bouquet of flowers to carry away. In the afternoon Adelaide Sharp arrived from Tihran. It was eight years since she had been in Haifa. That afternoon we went to the Master's house and had tea with the ladies. There I met for the first time the Holy Mother who was ninety-three years old, and it was my privilege to sit by her side.
A Japanese Scroll
One day I decided to give the Japanese scroll I had brought from my home in Tokyo to Shoghi Effendi. Knowing that he received many presents, I hesitated thinking I would only be burdening him. The evening after I gave it to him, he spoke of it at the table and said he was going to hang it in the hall in Bahjí. I was deeply touched and said, "It is a great honor to the nation of Japan!" Another evening when he came to dinner he said he had been to Bahjí that afternoon and had hung the scroll in the hall there, on either side of which he had placed paintings of Dr. Herman Grossmann's, and he
On April twenty-ninth, the women went to Bahjí where they had lunch together and a meeting in the afternoon. It was my first visit there and I had the joy of going with Zia Khanum and Ruhiyyih Khanum. While there Ruhiyyih Khanum and I prayed in the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh for the friends in Japan. At the lunch I shared with the ladies some special pickles I had brought from Kyoto.
One evening at dinner I told Shoghi Effendi about the incense which he had given me to take to the Shrine of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and he said I might give it to the caretaker of the Shrine, and he would tell him he could burn it in the Shrine, and also that I might burn it in the hall at Bahjí when I visited there. I told May Maxwell about the incense and she said: "What a blessing for that blind man!"
Every Sunday afternoon the men met at the Shrine on Mt. Carmel where the Guardian chanted. The women had their meeting in the house near the monument to the Greatest Holy Leaf. On May second, after the women's meeting, we went to the Shrine where we could hear the Guardian chanting. In his voice there was a power which was different from all others.
Visit to Jerusalem
I could not leave Palestine without having my passport renewed and it was necessary for me to go to Jerusalem to see the American Consul. At the dinner table Shoghi Effendi announced that he would send his brother with me and Adelaide Sharpe to Jerusalem. I asked him what he thought we should see in Jerusalem, and he said the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Mount of Olives and the Mosque of Omar, and then we should compare them with the Shrines in Haifa and Bahjí. What a privilege it was for us to go as his guests! We traveled third class on the train which gave us the opportunity to see the interesting young Hebrew workers and the Arabs in their costumes. In Jerusalem we stayed for two nights at the modern YMCA which was a gift from an American. On the way to the church of the Holy Sepulcher we passed through the Jaffa Gate to the old city. One felt the utter spiritual darkness of the place and was glad to leave and never return again. On the Mount of Olives we found the trees so very old that they no longer could bare fresh young foliage. These places were in extreme contrast to the spiritual peace and beauty and freshness of the Shrines in Haifa and Bahjí.
Visit to ‘Akká and Bahjí
On Friday, May seventh, the Guardian directed Hussein Rabbani to accompany Adelaide Sharp and myself to ‘Akká and Bahjí where we were to spend the night. On the way to the ‘Akká prison, we stopped at the Bahá'í cemetery where ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's two young sons and Nabil are buried. Reaching the prison we waited outside the gate until permission was given us to enter. As we sat in the auto, the breeze from the ocean and the sound of the waves, reminded me of Hawaii. Entering the prison we were shown the room which had been occupied by Bahá'u'lláh. It was then vacant, as that part of the prison was kept for a hospital. Over the door of the room was a brass plaque on which was inscribed, "Bahá'u'lláh 30th August 1868 — 11th September 1870." Then we visited the garden of Ridvan where the gardener picked mulberries for us.
When we reached Bahjí we were each assigned a room for the night. There the surrounding country seemed pervaded with an atmosphere of peace. It reminded me of Makawao, Maui, on the slope of the mountain Haleakala. In the Esslemont room, in the Mansion, I saw the Japanese edition of Esslemont's book which had been sent from Tokyo, and also the clippings from Japanese newspapers carefully placed in a drawer. In the hall of the Mansion, I burned the incense which blind Mr. Watanabe had sent by me from Kyoto which Shoghi Effendi had told me I might do. From that blessed place we wrote letters to friends. I had started a letter to George Beatty in Japan, but could not finish it, as the auto arrived to take us back to Haifa. That evening at dinner I spoke to the Guardian again of George, and asked if I should write him that he must give up drink. A laughter started which went around the table, the beloved Guardian joining in it. He answered me, "Wait until he is a Bahá'í."
May Maxwell, was then staying in Nazareth and sent word for me to come see her. Hussein Rabbani went with me. It was the last time I saw beloved May until we met in New York in September. On the return to Haifa, Ruhiyyih Khanum accompanied us. It was an evening never to be forgotten at sunset time. The next year as I rode from San Francisco to Geyserville, I was impressed with the resemblance of the landscape to that between Haifa and Nazareth.
The day before I sailed from Haifa, Shoghi Effendi sent Hussein Rabbani with Adelaide and myself to visit the Archives in the Shrine on Mount Carmel and the cave of Elijah. At the dinner table that evening he asked me when my steamer was to sail, and then said he would see me the next afternoon. The afternoon of May twelfth, I sailed from Haifa on the steamer Jerusalem for Treiste. My roommate was a young Jewess girl who showed interest in the Cause.
Words of Shoghi Effendi
When I reached Haifa my heart was full of many things which I wished to speak to the Guardian about concerning Japan. In his presence I felt self-conscious when I spoke, and as Adelaide Sharp spoke only of Persia, I found it difficult to speak. God did not deprive me, though and when I left Haifa there remained nothing in my heart which had not been answered. All I could say then was, "It is all-satisfying!"
Whenever I was able to speak, the Guardian would immediately answer with soul-satisfying replies. I spoke of George Beatty, that he said he could not be a Bahá'í because he drank. Ruhiyyih Khanum had met him in Montreal where her blessed mother taught him. Shoghi Effendi said: "Any person considering to become a believer must make up his mind to give up drink.
I spoke of the brother, Mr. Daiun Inouye, that he was a Buddhist priest. Shoghi Effendi said that he could not be a Bahá'í and remain a priest, that he should make every effort to find other means of livelihood even though it were less money, and that it should be explained to him: "Bahá'u'lláh is the Bearer of a New Revelation which abrogates the old, the Founder of a New Dispensation. We have our own laws. We must not be members of any organizations but we must cooperate with all provided cooperation does not imply acceptance. We must do just what others do who enter our meetings, reciprocate like people who address Bahá'í meetings. We must make distinction between association and affiliation. Our Faith abrogates the laws of previous revelations, therefore we cannot be members of other organizations."
I spoke of Confucius, that in his writings he mentioned his return. Shoghi Effendi said: "Confucius was not only a philosopher but a saintly man, and any person who has saintly attributes, their attributes will return. Ninety per cent of the scholars have said that Buddha [sic — Confucius? -J.W.] was not a prophet. Hinduism and Buddhism are the only existing true religions of the Far East."
One day as I was writing to the blind friends in Japan, I spoke of the spread of the Cause among them and asked the Guardian what he would suggest for me to write them. He said: "The effect of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets to the blind in Japan we are now beginning to witness. The Braille Committee has been internationally extended. The blind should be told that the Cause will be the greatest comfort and the words of Helen Keller should be quoted, and they should be told what the Bahá'ís are doing for the blind in particular that it is international in scope. There will be many more blind after the war."
I asked Shoghi Effendi what he would suggest to write in a newspaper article. He said: "Stress the oneness of humanity in almost every newspaper article. It is the call of humanity to the unity of mankind. We must identify it with the coming of age of the whole race. This is a new teaching which the world is now ready for. 'He will guide you into all truth,' the maturity of the age. The forces are now released and are preparing humanity to attain that stage. The principle of the oneness of humanity is the cornerstone of Bahá'í civilization. It is the call to the Bahá'í teachings. Unity of mankind is new. Christ could not have taught it. The world was not ready. Forces have now been released and are preparing humanity to attain that stage. The child is not yet born. Now is the stage of incubation. The child is world civilization."
He said: "The immediate future in Japan is very dark. Japan is going to suffer. The time is not now for great headway. The Pacific will become a great storm center in the coming war — great suffering."
I spoke of Yuri Furukawa, that she had wished to have a school. He answered, "It is useless to have a school. Make her realize the need of the study of the Cause, the Bahá'í World especially, and to associate with the Bahá'ís. What we require in Japan is a recognition of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and of His Station."
The last afternoon in Haifa the Guardian sent for me and I went across to the Master's house and waited in the parlor for him. When he came, he carried in his hands something folded in a white silk kerchief. He said he was sorry he had kept me waiting, but he was preparing this for me. Then he opened the covering and showed me a beautiful photograph of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. He said, "This is for you to keep until you have the archive in Japan, then it is to go to the Japanese archives." He said the photograph was the original taken in Paris and pointed out how clearly one could see the lines in the Master's face. There was also in the kerchief a large copy of the Greatest Name which the beloved Guardian presented to me. In place of the one stolen in Tokyo, I received this precious gift from him!
That last afternoon Shoghi Effendi spoke rapidly inspiring words which I took down as far as I was able in a note book. In referring to Japan he said: "Japan has a very great future. It is very much like Germany, full of vitality and in the future it will be devoted to the Cause. Now it is the transition time. They need a rude awakening. They must be shaken before they awaken. Nationalism and militarism are all instruments which God is utilizing for the use of His purpose. This turmoil is a preparation . . . If you are able to, encourage friends not only to visit Japan but to settle there. Travelers have not been able to achieve what was wanted . . . Come again with Japanese Bahá'ís, not only interested but Bahá'ís, for I do want the Japanese Bahá'ís to take an active share in the international affairs here in the future when the International House of Justice is formed. Its seat will be here in Palestine. I hope we will have pilgrims from Japan."
Shoghi Effendi had said one night at the dinner table that someone from Hawaii might return to Japan with me. That last afternoon he said to me, "You may choose whom to go."
When I left Kyoto on my way to Haifa, Mr. and Mrs. Torii gave me a photograph of Akira printed together with that of a young girl who had died. They had not met in this world, but their parents felt they were together in the other world. I showed the photograph to Shoghi Effendi one evening at the dinner table, and he asked if he might keep it. That last afternoon I told him that the parents felt these two were united in the other world. He said: "There is no doubt that the souls in the other world are in closer touch than in this world for the body is an obstacle."
At another time Shoghi Effendi had said, when speaking of the friends in Japan: "Impress upon the friends the need of the establishment of a Local Assembly. It doesn't matter where, in the city or village. Because their faith is not deep enough they are liable to lose interest and join other movements."
Shoghi Effendi's mother, Zia Khanum, gave me, as I was leaving Haifa, a beautiful small Persian rug on which was woven the Greatest Name. It deeply touched my heart. How marvelous were the ways of God!
From Fukushima province, the blind teacher, Mr. Yasuharu Nakayama, sent me a letter which had been translated by a friend. He wrote in part: "Mr. Torii told me that you will come again to Japan about the end of this year. I must study hard, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, by that time. Please teach me this religion when you return. I wish to be a perfect follower of the Bahá'í and then propagate it in our province . . . For this purpose I must study more English . . . It is my earnest hope that you return to Japan as soon as possible . . ."
Martha Root's Fourth Visit to Japan
In June, 1937, Japan had the great blessing of a visit from beloved Martha Root. The story of her fourth visit has already been published. (See B.W. Vol. VII, pages 90-93). She was in Japan from June third until the twenty-seventh, and visited the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, where she met all the Bahá'ís and brought them spiritual fragrance. It was at the time when Helen Keller visited the country. While I was in Haifa, Shoghi Effendi had told me that the words of Helen Keller about the Bahá'í Revelation, which were published in the Bahá'í World, should be given to the blind, and so I copied them and sent to Japan. There beloved Martha gave them to the Press.
Martha wrote: "Mr. Torii is lovable like St. John and so is his wife. He has such great capacity and he has done solid, glorious foundation work. I felt his helpful influence in each city in Japan that I visited. He knows how to take responsibility; he is scholarly, a good speaker, a fluent Esperantist and is always smiling and pleasant." Beloved Martha was the last Bahá'í to water the Divine seeds which had been planted in Japan.
The following are portions of letters to me from friends who met Martha in Japan. Mrs. Yuri Furukawa who had met May Maxwell and her daughter in Paris in 1923, wrote: "My dear Bahá'í mother, I thank you very very much for your letter and cards. I am so glad to know that you have had the good time at Haifa. I think it is wonderful that Mary Maxwell is now our Guardian's wife. I am very happy to know it . . . Do you know that Miss Martha Root has come on her way to Tokyo last month, and we had a happy time with her . . . I have the Bahá'í meeting of women every month. They are very interested in the Cause . . . We wish to do something for the poor and helpless mothers and going to translate the Hidden Words. When will you return to Japan? I wish to have many and good members for our meeting and do something for the good of mankind. We meet on the nineteenth at my house. We are waiting for you."
Mr. Torii wrote: "My dearest spiritual mother! . . . Always with great joy I received your cards and letter from almost every port . . . I have shared them among the friends in Kyoto, Kobe and Tokyo. Every time they brought us happiness, as if we were with you. We are anxious to hear all and more of your visit in the Holy Land. Miss Root arrived at Yokohama June third, and stayed in Tokyo until the seventeenth. She met there Kagawa, Mr. Noma and of course the Bahá'í friends and had a meeting at Sawada's home to which gathered eighteen blind students. She was very sorry that you and Dr. Masujima had gone to America. She came to Kyoto in the evening of the eighteenth and attended the Esperantists' meeting that night, where gathered about thirty, some from Osaka, and she spoke to them about the Bahá'í teachings. The following day, the nineteenth, I think you will be much surprised to hear, Mr. Fukuta came to see us from Toyohashi. We received him at the station and had a very good time, indeed, and spoke of you and everything altogether. (Mr. Fukuta was the first Japanese in Japan.) He spent that night with me at my home. How happy we were to see him, you can imagine. The next day, as it was Sunday, we invited Miss Root to my home and had a lunch together, and in the afternoon we visited Mr. Nishida's Ittoen of Yamashima, where we met Mr. Tagita, a member of Ittoen who became much interested in the Bahá'í teachings. In the evening we invited Mr. Kawai and Mr. Watanabe to the hotel and also Mr. Fukumi, a writer of the Chugai Nippo. Fukuta San left us for his home that evening. The next day, the twenty-first, we met a writer of the Asahi Shimbun, who wrote of Miss Root and me and took a photograph of us. In the evening Miss Root left Kyoto for Kobe. On the twenty-sixth, I went to Kobe to see her at the Fuji Hotel and met Mrs. Arakawa, Mr. Misawa, Mr. Inouye and some other blind friends. We spent a night in Kobe and had a happy time again. Sunday morning we went to the ship, Asama Maru for Shanghai . . . I am distributing now and then the Braille book of Esslemont, whenever I have money to do so. I pray for peace of the world, peace of the orient especially . . . Please give our love and good will to everyone you meet everywhere you go . . ."
Mr. Keiji Sawada of Tokyo wrote: "In April there was an enthusiastic welcome for Dr. Helen Keller. She and Miss Polly Thompson came to visit our school on April twenty-ninth, our Emperor's Birthday. Their speech inspired us with love and courage. In May I received a letter from America in which I was very glad to learn that the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Mass., U.S.A. where Miss Sullivan, teacher of Helen Keller, was educated will assign me a scholarship covering room, board, laundry and tuition, from September, 1938 till June, 1939. I hope I shall be able to visit your country next year. In June I was surprised to receive a letter from Miss Root. I went to see her at the Marunouchi Hotel and Yuri San also came there and we had supper together. When I visited Miss Root one evening I met with Mrs. Naganuma and Mr. Ogawa. I think they are still very much interested in the Bahá'í teachings . . . In the beginning of this month the seventh Convention of the World Federation of Education Associations was held at the Tokyo Imperial University. I listened to the speeches broadcast from there by radio. They were very interesting to me, the spirit being quite Bahá'í . . ." The blind friend, Mr. Iwao Watanabe, of Kyoto wrote: "I have the honor to inform you that I have received your very kind letters and I thank you ever so much for your kindness to report several things. Your very kind letters are all like good guides. All your letters and post cards are kept in my chest with great care. My brother said it was a great opportunity for me to study
Mr. Torii wrote August 30, 1937, after the attack on Shanghai. "O how often we think and talk of Miss Root in China. We only pray for her that she may be safe and protected . . . Your letter from Paris is circulated among the friends."
In November, 1937, an American friend paid for the publishing of the Hidden Words in Japanese which Yuri Furukawa had translated.
In August, 1938, our dear brother, Mr. Daiun Inouye resigned from the Buddhist priesthood. When I was in Haifa the beloved Guardian said that he should make every effort to find other means of livelihood, even though it were less money, and that he could not be a Bahá'í and remain a priest, so it was a great joy to know that he had taken the step. He wrote: "I send you the news regarding my life's important change, that is, in August this year I have completely retired from my church in Kobe, giving up its position and profession as a priest, and I have become entirely free in action and idea, so hereafter I will be able to fearlessly do any action. This is a great change for my own life. Thus on the nineteenth day of the same month my family moved to the present house in Tokyo from Kobe, and my son is studying music to become a pianist, and also my wife and I are now at ease, while I am intending to become a teacher in a women's school next year. It has been my long expected aim and idea to stand up for the Bahá'í Movement in Japan during my last life. Indeed it was during your first visit that I learned about the Bahá'í teaching, even the days of His great ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's lifetime. What a very mysterious thing! I reflect it with deep impression . . . Once in Kobe Miss Root told me she wished that I will strive for the Bahá'í Cause, so she may feel pleasure when she knows of my renewed life."
Mr. Keiji Sawada received in 1938 a scholarship for a year at Perkins Institution for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. There he was visited by our brother, Harlan Ober, who spent several hours with him and his American roommate. In a letter to me Mr. Sawada told how deeply he was impressed with the sincerity of Mr. Ober's Faith; and added, "I never forget your friendship and kindness in helping me spiritually."
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Miss Alexander sought opportunities to speak before English-speaking clubs and Esperanto groups. The top photograph shows Miss Alexander with women Esperantists. The bottom one is with an Esperanto group in Tomakomai in 1932, when the Faith was first mentioned in Hokkaido.
Through the guiding hand and loving care of the Beloved Master, the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh was established in Japan. After His passing the seeds which have been sown were invigorated by the dynamic power released in the ceaseless flow of letters from the beloved Guardian Shoghi Effendi.
The first Bahá'í seeds were sown in Japan by Mr. H. C. Struven and Mr. C.M. Remey when they spent six days in Tokyo in December, 1909, and the last, before the world conflagration, by beloved Martha Root in her fourth visit to Japan in June, 1937, when she met with the friends in Tokyo, Kyoto and Kobe.
Dr. and Mrs. G.J. Augur assisted the Cause in Japan in their visits there between the years 1914 and 1919. Through the directions of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and after Him, Shoghi Effendi, I spent fourteen years in Japan during four sojourns between the years 1914 and 1937 when I left to go to the Holy Land.
‘Abdu'l-Bahá's only address to a Japanese audience was given in the Japanese YMCA in Oakland, California. In Japan also the first public lecture on the Bahá'í Cause was given in the Japanese YMCA in Tokyo by Mr. C.M. Remey in December, 1909. It was in the same YMCA Dr. G.J. Augur spoke to a group of ministers 1914. Here also Martha Root in her first visit to Japan in July, 1915, spoke to the English Speaking Club and in each succeeding visit she was invited to speak to the club. Here Keith Ransom-Kehler in the summer of 1931 spoke several times to the club. Many times I was welcomed to speak in the club and also in the English Conversation classes of the night school opportunities were given me to speak of the Cause until I felt the stones of the building must vibrate with God's Message.
James A.B. Scherer concludes his book, Japan Defies the World, with the statement that Japan will ruin herself by her own means and thus save herself since her people will rise to shape a new life.
The great Japanese Buddhist apostle, Kobo Daishi, said: "Fragrant flowers are very sweet, but one day they fade away. Who can say, 'This world is unchanging?' Crossing over the mount of change today we shall find no dreaming nor illusion but enlightenment."
In a Tablet to the beloved brother, Mr. S. Fujita, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá wrote: "Japan hath made wonderful progress in material civilization but she will become perfect when she also becometh spiritually developed and the power of the Kingdom becometh manifest in her."
The Guardian said that now was not the time for headway in Japan, yet his words and those of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá assure us of the brightness of the distant future in that country.
References in Bahá'í Literature to Japan
EDITORIAL AND HISTORICAL NOTES
Sometime after Miss Alexander's passing in 1971 parts of the manuscript were found in her effects, which were willed to the Archives in Japan. After the complete manuscript was located, the National Spiritual Assembly of Japan started to prepare it for publication. The format and design have been followed as closely as possible as she had typed it, with the exception of setting off the Words of Bahá'u'lláh, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and letters of the Guardian in italics.
Throughout the text of this book are the word "Bahá'í Cause," and sometimes "Bahá'í Movement." These days the Bahá'í religion is generally referred to as the Bahá'í Faith. However, as this is a historical document we did not want to change the title of the book as designated by Miss Alexander.
It may be observed that in the early days of the spread of the Faith in the West, great emphasis was placed on the Words, Life and Personality of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. The believers at that time had caught only a glimpse of the towering Figure of the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, and had but a few translations of His matchless Words. What the early believers did have were the Tablets of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in which He answered their questions, taught and encouraged them, guided them to service and action, always leading them to His Father's Message. Is it any wonder that their hearts poured out to the Master and that He truly exemplified the Faith to them? It was their love and obedience to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá which motivated them into action. This history is the story of one such individual and those who were taught by her.
Early translations of the Hidden Words and other Words of Bahá'u'lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá which are quoted in this book have been superseded by Shoghi Effendi's translations. However, the old translations were what the early believers had at the time and were written into the manuscript. We did not feel we should change them.
Miss Alexander has quoted from the Tablets which she received from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. She received at least one other. It is quoted here.
O Thou seeker of the Kingdom!
There is a record of a Bahá'í woman, Beatrice Erskine Lane, 1878-1939), whose mother was Emily Erskine Hahn, a Bahá'í on the East Coast of the United States. Miss Lane came to Japan in 1911 to marry the well-known Buddhist scholar and writer in English, Daisetz (his preferred spelling) Suzuki. The famous British potter Mr. Bernard Leach, wrote recently, "Beatrice Lane, I met more than once at Dr. Suzuki's but didn't then know about the Faith. Since then I've met him and he told me his wife was a Bahá'í. He was Dr. Yanai's principal teacher — both profound Buddhists." Mrs. Hahn visited Japan in 1917, we can presume to see her daughter, and also met the Tokyo Bahá'ís.
In Chapter I of this book there is an account of the first travelers to Japan, Mr. Struven and Mr. Remey. After Japan, they went to other countries and then into ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Presence in Haifa. Mr. Struven wrote an account of that visit to a friend in 1952, "How well I remember sitting in ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's bedroom with Him and He gazing out the window . . . when He turned and said, 'You did not know how ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was watching over you while you traveled and met the hardships to spread the Cause.'"
In Chapter III there is an account of Mr. Tokujiro Torii, (1894-1970). Blind himself, he spent most of his life helping to alleviate the situation of the blind in Japan, and was decorated by the Emperor for his work with the blind. He translated many of the Writings into Braille.
Mrs. Torii, now over 80, tells of her husband's dream, (translated from Japanese). "In the first year of our marriage (1916), we were living in Shizuoka (about 100 miles southwest of Tokyo), and it was there that he had the dream. He described it to me thus: 'I dreamt that it was autumn, and I was in the serene forests of Shizuoka. Someone approached me, and in His company were several others who followed quietly behind Him. He came to where I stood and a silence ensued which no words could match in sweetness and strength. I stretched my hands out towards Him, and He took me into His embrace. His arms around me, I felt the warmth and strength of His chest, and His full beard covered my face. No words were spoken, the silence being interrupted only by the rustling of fallen leaves and the chirping of birds. Suddenly I knew that He must be ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, but in the excitement of that thrilling moment I awoke.' The memory of that dream was the source of great comfort through his life, and in times of sorrow and disappointment."
In Chapter 4 there is mention of Miss Mikae Komatsu, one of the three Japanese women to receive a Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. She is now Mrs. Tadako Arakawa and is 74 years old. She said the name Mikae was a literary pen name she used for a time. She recalls the early days quite well — and was extremely fond of both Miss Alexander and Mrs. Finch. She said her original Tablet from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was lost in the chaotic condition just after World War II as she was forced to abandon most of her possessions when she and her family moved to Tokyo.
Mrs. Yuri Furukawa (Mochizuki), the first Japanese woman to become a Bahá'í is still living in Tokyo.
In Chapter 6 Miss Alexander makes mention of "Mr. Yanagi, who was stirring through the means of art to bring better understanding between (Japan and Korea) . . ." Mr. Bernard Leach has confirmed that this was Dr. Soetsu Yanagi, founder and leader of the Japanese folk craft movement, Mr. Leach and Dr. Yanagi were close friends and colleagues. Mr. Leach once had a kiln on Dr. Yanagi's property in Abiko.
Mr. Leach suggested that the initial "M" which Miss Alexander used before Dr. Yanagi's name, came from an alternate reading, Muneyoshi, of the character used for his first name.
This story takes the reader up to Miss Alexander's departure from Japan in 1937. A continuation of her story of Japan would pick up again in 1950 when she returned. She spent another 17 years in Japan. During that time she was appointed Auxiliary Board Member by the Hands of the Cause in Asia. In 1957 the Guardian appointed her Hand of the Cause. During those years she lived in Kyoto but traveled extensively in many countries of Asia — teaching, deepening and encouraging. She was especially kind to the army of pioneers who went to Asian countries in response to the call issued by the Guardian during the Ten-Year Crusade, 1953-1963. With those she could not see regularly, she carried on a correspondence. Her notes were always full of encouragement — often quoting appropriate passages — and they helped to sustain many lonely but striving pioneers. She undoubtedly realized they were ". . . those who after you will tread your path . . .," to quote the Guardian's words to her.
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Japan
(by) Barbara Sims, 1977